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MICROCOPY (ESOIUTION TEST CHA«T
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THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN
15e Cottnto l?amilton
THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN
THE BLINDNESS OF VIRTUE
THE DOOR THAT HAS NO KEY
THE MIRACLE OF LOVE
A PLEA FOR THE YOUNGER
And over the.n both . . . hung the m™,n and stars.
t HONTispiEcE. .See page 3^.
THE SINS OK THE
HUH ri!:.uisi'ii:cK hy
GI'OiiCK (X MAKER
l'H<f\ Jl.-i ;:i-i.,' .\V,:
THE SINS OF THE
WITH FRONTISPIECE By
GEORGE O. BAKER
Bt Cosmo Hamilton.
All rights remved
THE COLONIAL PBEgs
C. H. S1M0ND8 CO., BOSTON, V. S. A.
PART ONE — Youth
PART TWO -The City .
PART THREE — Life
THE SINS OF
tJ^r. ^''r.^"*»'"^ '^"ghed the rooks stirred on
the old trees behind the Bodleian and the bored cab"
cXsZ S V?'' ■•" — f-'^ble attitudes on the r
cabs in St. Cles perl<ed up their heads.
He threw open his door one morning and leaving
sJi r "''; °' "^''^ ^°"'"S round' the tro?
las Kenv u'" '"""'^ '''' ^^-^"""-"t form of Nicho
las Kenyon all among his cushions as usual JTl
zTes The""' f^'^''''-' ^"^ -SinThis m g !
" You ought to know that I don't think. It's a form
of exercise that I never indulee in" V " ' ^ ^°™
4 THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN
" Well," said Peter, " I was coming down the High
just now and an awful pretty girl passed with a Univ.
man. She looked at me — thereby very nearly laying
me flat on my face — and I heard her a>k, 'Who's
that ? ' It was the man's answer that makes me laugh.
He said: ' Oh, he's only a Rhodes scholar 1 ' " And
off he went again.
Nicholas Kenyon raised his immaculate person a few
inches and looked round at his friend. The Harvard
man, with his six-foot-one of excellent muscles and
sinews, his square shoulders and deep chest, and his
fine, honest, alert and healthy face, made most people
ask who he was. "If I'd been you," said Kenyon,
"I should have made a mental note of that Univ.
blighter in order to .and him one the ne.xt time you
saw him, that he wouldn't easily forget."
"Why? I liked it, from a man of his type. I've
been 'only a d.— - cd Rhodes scholar' to all the little
pussy purr-pur. .'er since I first walked the High in
my American-ma - clothes. I owe that fellow no
grudge; and if I m.ct that girl again — which I shall
make a point of doing— I bet you anything you like
that his scoffing remark will lend a touch of romance
to me which will be worth a lot."
" Was .she something out of the ordinary? "
" Quite," said Peter.
He hung his straw hat on the electric bulb, threw off
his coat, rolled up his sleeves and started to tidy up his
rooms with more energy and deftness than is possessed
by the average housemaid. He flicked the little pile
of cigarette ash, which Kenyon had dropped on the
floor into a corner. He gathered the weekly illus-
rated papers which Kenyon had flung aside and put
them on a back shelf, and then he picked up the man
Kenyon m his arms, deposited him in a wide arm-
cha.rln front of the fireplace and started punching all
the cushions. *
Kenyon looked ineffably bored. " Good God • " he
sa.d. "What's all this energy? Vo„ shatter my
"My dear chap," said Peter, "you seem to forget
hat this .s Commen,. and that n,y people have come
three thousand miles to see their little Peter in his little
rooms. Im therefore polishing up the knocker of the
big front door. My mother has a tidy mind and I
vvaut my father to gain the impression that I'm me-
thodical and responsible. He has a quick eye They
wired me from London last night to sav that they'll be
here at five o'clock to tea. I dashed round to the Ran-
dolph early this morning to book rooms for them
Oe^ It s a big party, tool I can't make out why they
want so many rooms. It'll be like my sister to have
urought over one of her school friends. I guess I
shall be darned glad to see them, anyway."
There waj a touch of excitement in the boy's voice
and h.s sun-tanned, excellent face showed the delight
that he felt. He had not seer his mother, brother and
EngTand"" "'° ^'"'' ''""'"^ '^'"^ ^'' ^^-^^"""^ '"
Nicholas Kenyon got up slowly. He did every-
thing slowly. "Well," he said, "I thank God that
my people don't bother me on these festive occasions
6 THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN
To my way of thinking the influx of fathers and
mothers into Oxford makes the whole place provincial.
However, I can understand your childish glee. You
are pretty badly dipped, I understand, and with the
true psychology of the rasping undergraduate you are
first going to throw the glamour of the city of spires
over your untravelled parent and then touch him for
a fairly considerable cheque."
Peter gave a sort of laugh. " Touch my father! "
he said. " Not much. I shall put my case up to my
mother. She's the one who does these little things."
Kenyon was faintly interested. Being perennially
impecunious himself and unable to raise money even
from the loan sharks, he looked to the advent of Peter's
parents to bring him at least fifty pounds. He always
borrowed from Peter.
" Oh, I see," he said. " It's the old lady who car-
ries the money-Legs, is it?"
" No, it isn't," said Peter; "but as a matter of fact
I never have gone to my father for anything and I
don't think I ever shall. I don't know why it is, but
none of us have ever been able to screw up courage to
say more than ' Good-morning ' and ' Good-night ' to
the Governor, although of course we all think he is a
very wonderful person."
Kenyon yawned. "I see," he said. "Bad luck.
I should hate to have such a disagreeable devil for a
father — one of the martinet type, who says don't all
the time when he ought to say do, and makes home a
sort of pocket-hell for everybody."
Peter twisted round and spoke quickly and rather
warmly. "So should I," he said, "but luckily I
haven't. I didn't want to suggest Uiat my father was
that type of man. He's one of the very best — one of
the men who count for something in my country
He s worked like a dog to give us a chance in life and
his generosity makes me personally sometimes feel al-
most mdecent. I mean that I feel that I have taken
advantage of him,— but — but, somehow or other,—
oh, I don't know,— we don't seem to know each other
— that's all. He hasn't the knack of winning our
confidence — or something. So it conies to this : when
we want anything we ask mother and she gets it for us
That's all there's to it. And look here, Nick, I want
you to be frightfully nice to the Governor. Get out
of your ice-box and warm up to the old man. I can't
you see; but as he has come all this way to look me up
I want somebody to show some appreciation."
With his eyes to the small relief which the visit of
Dr. Hunter Guthrie, of New York City, might bring
him, Nicholas Kenyon nodded. " Rely on me," he
said. "Butter shan't melt in r.y mouth; and before
your father leaves Oxford I'll make him feel that he's
been created a Baronet and appointed Physician in
Ordinary to His Majesty the King. Well, so long
Peter! I'm lunching with Lascelles at the House this
mommg. I'll drop in to tea and hand cakes round to
your beloved family."
" Right-o," said Peter. " ThafU be great ! " And
when the door dosed and he found himself alone he
arranged a certain number of silver cups which he had
won in athletics all along his mantel-piece, for his
. •■ I
THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN
father to see, gazed at them for a moment with a half-
smile of rather self-conscious pride, finished tidying
his room, gazed affectionately for a few moments at
the familiar sight of Pusey House through the leaf-
crowded trees that lined the sunny street, and then sat
down to his piano and played a rag-time with all that
perfect excellence and sense of rhythm which had
opened the most insular doors to him during his first
days as a fresher.
This fine big fellow, Peter Murray Guthrie, who
had done immensely well at Harvard in athletics and
was by no means a fool intellectually, could afford to
be amused at the fact that he had been scoffingly re-
ferred to as " only a Rhodes scholar." He had been
born under a lucky star and he had that wonderful
gymnastic faculty of always falling on his feet. If
with all his suspicions aroused he had gone up to Ox-
ford in the same rather timid, self-conscious, on-the-
defensive manner of the average Rhodes scholar who
expected to be treated as a creature quite differ
from the English undergraduate, he would have founcl
his way to the American Club and stayed there more
or less iJermanently, taking very little part in the glori-
ous multitudinous life of the freshmen of his college,
and remained a sort of pariah of his own making
Freshmen themselves, the Lord knows, are forlorn
enough. Everything is strange to them, too, — so-
ciety, rules, customs, unwritten laws and faces.
cro vd. If they do not come frot^ one of the great
pubhc schools and meet again the men they knew fi ere
thejr chance of making friends is small aL frmany
and envy and find the.r feet alone, suffering poor
d v,,s from a hideous sheepishness and wo.fdeHng
w.th a sort of morbid self-consciousness, what other
ta ke'dTro f''?- ^"' '''''' ''■'' unafraid H
on earth -with his miagmation stirred at the sight
the feet of the great dead and rang with those of the
younger generation to whom life was a great advn
ure and who might spring from those old stones inTo
verlastmg fame. He strode through the gate of St
Johns w,th h. chin high, prepared to serve her w.U
all h^ s rength and all the best of his youth and lea^
her finally ^^sM by his name. He didn't give a
single whoop for all this talk about the snobbishness
and msu^rtty of English undergraduates. He didn'
beheve that he would find a college divided and sub-
divided into se.s; and if the statement proved to be
true well, he intended to break all the barriers down
Therefore, with such a spirit added to his fine frank
manly personality, irresistible laugh, great big frienJly
hand and the rumours that came with him of his but
hke rushes on the football field, he became at once a
marked man. Second-year and even third-year men
nudged each other when he passed. .- By JoZ/r th y
sa.d. Thats a useful looking cove! We must get
THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN
him down to the river." Or, " I wonder if that
American can be taught to play cricicet? " As for the
freshers — all as frightened as a lot of rabbits far
away from their warren — they gazed with shy ad-
miration and respect at Peter, who, expecting no re-
buffs, received none.
Finding that he could not live in college until he was
a second-year man, Peter had looked about him among
the freshers for a likely person with whom to share
rooms. He had come up in the train with Nicholas
Kenyon, whose shell he had insisted upon opening.
He, too, was entered at St. John's and was very ready
— being impecunious — to share lodgings with the
American whose allowance he might share and whose
personality was distinctly unusual. These two then
gravitated to Beaumont Street, captured a large sit-
ting-room and two bed-rooms on the ground floor, and
from the first evening of their arrival were perfectly
at home. Peter at once hired a piano from a music
shop in the High which he quickly discovered, bought
several bottles of whiskey and a thousand cigarettes,
besides several pounds of pipe tobacco, threw open his
window, and as soon as dinner was ovrr started play-
Kenyon had been interested and amused. He had
not exp;cted to find himself " herding," as he put it,
with a damned Rhodes scholar. He took it for
granted that these " foreigners " would live apart from
the ordinary undergraduate, as uncouth people should.
He had been quick to notice, however, — psychology
being his principal stock in trade, — that Peter had
made an instant impression; and as he sat nn fU
cen^n,, not be sulkin, in the A:!jict al' ^^°"''
"P^er"TL f. ''"*'■" °' '*• J^*^"'^' ''—
everything thlt wls'^oo't hS^'Se TT^ 7''
lovallv rv,oj t,- 6 " lu mm. He stood by them
who tnTed o J' 'T' ^'"^ headquarters, and aH
NfchSl kf^R ""'"""^ ^""^^'' -'-ting Forbis
of MertonalVo /!'■"'*''■■■ ^"'^ ^^^^'«°" Smith.
casion and the fame of th» epoch-making oc-
was easy. There was nothing else Hke it
whJe tlTr'""'^ ''^'^•" "^^ ^^ - ««'e while the
^™ » ws Piano p.W-";ir.j;'„L^;
12 THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN
right. Others conceived his great laugh to be mainly
responsible — and were not far short of the mark.
But it was Nicholas Kenyon, the psychologist, who
put his finger on the whole truth of this swift and un-
believable success. He said that it was Peter's hu-
manity which had conquered Oxford, and in so doing
proved — impecunious only son of an absolutely broke
peer as he was — that he would be able to make a very
fair living in the future on his wits. It may be said
that he never intended to work.
It was part of Peter's honesty and simplicity to re-
main American. He made no effort to ape the Ox-
ford manner of speech. He would see himself shot
before he got into the rather effeminate clothes af-
fected by the Oxford man. He continued to be nat-
ural, to remain himself, and not to take on the colors
chameleon-wise of those about him. His Stetson hat
was the standing joke of St. John's. Nevertheless,
there was not one man in the college who would not
have hit hard if any derogatory remarks had been
thrown at the head inside it. His padded shoulders,
upholstered ties and narrow belt were all frequently
caricatured, but the sound of Peter's laugh gathered
men together like the music of the Pied Piper of Ham-
elm. It was just that this man Peter Guthrie was a
man that made him not only accepted in a place sceth-
mg with quaint and foolish habits, out-of-date shib-
boleths and curious unwritten laws, but loved and re-
spected. Here was one to whom merely to live was
a joy. To the despondent he came therefore as a
tome. He exuded breeziness filled with ozone. His
the P«.y side and To, nte Jf' "pr' ^'^ ^'^ ^'^^
hard ana played hard and seVL. ^' ^°'''"'
and drank like a thirs"pIa„T A / . '^' '"= ""'''''
a factory chimney He hfn ° ''*' ''"°'^«d like
tolerance for " Ss " and "° "'"'''''' views -no
into chapel and saTh-- nr "''' ,T ''^'"^"^ '° stride
short, "una Jn,:j>;arhrwa^cr T'^ '°^- ^"
been endowed with the rare JifTf"''^' ""'^ '"'^ ''«<'
''ticking to it. And o at K?"^"''"''^"^
quented the rooms of the so-caned-fn^""' ^^° ^'^-
"h-ttle dreadful clever neon^^^"u"*'"''*"^'s - those
verted other meS ZS and '"'"''' '""" P^
nahty of their own -T^L a st^".' "° ''"^-
feter's part to have nothL but thfnu! °' ^'"'"* '"'
family all over his rooms ™P '5'^P^' °^ his
Nicholas said to himself ^hol^uiri ^ ' "'^ '"^"'
very young, to dispense S tL f 7'': ^"'""^ the .
in his frames - the nulf "'" ^°"" '''^i"^
them-i„ order to cole, the ^""'"^ P'^'^^'* ■"
devilish wise and bad Sot shT'!,""" °' "^'"^
this human merchant , V °'^^'^' according to
a week so that he might sit .^^^'^.'^'^ °ne evening
write a tremendous s re din "T^'^^P*^'' ^"^
that was Peter the m »! '"°'''"- However,
-hoIar-Petfr the OxTo^J ~ ''^^^^ ^"^ Rhodes'
- ^'.. -Pie ^^:^r:^z;:^z^i:^
14 THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN
annoyed the bloodless, clever parasite who lived with
him and upon him, — women.
Now, Nicholas Kenyon — the Honourable Nicholas
Augustus Fitzhugh Kenyon — was a patron of the
drama. That is to say, he had the right somehow to
enter the stage door of the Theatre Royal at all times,
and did so whenever the theatre was visited by a musi-
cal comedy company. He was known to innumerable
chorus girls as " Boy-dear,- and made a point of en-
tertaining them at luncheon and supper during their
visits to the university town. He brought choice
specimens of this breed to Beaumont Street for tea
and tittle-tattle and introduced them to Peter, who
liked them very much and would have staked his life
upon their being angels. But when it came to driving
out to small unnoticeable inns, Peter squared his shoul-
ders and stayed at home.
" The d.vil take it I" said Nicholas one night, with
frightful frankness which was devoid of any inten-
tional insolence. "What's this cursed provincialism
that hangs to you? I suppose it comes from the fact
that you were born in a shack to the tinkle of the trol-
Peter's howl of laughter made the piano play an
immaculate tune. "Wrong," he said. "Geei but
you're absolutely wrong. The whole thing comes to
this, Nick: One of these fine days I'm going to be
•named. The girl I marry is going to be cl.-an. I
beheve in fairness. I'm going to be clean. That's all
there is to it."
So that, one way and another. Dr. Hunter G. Guth-
One o'clock that afternoon found Peter still !,,„,
teninlt.H • ^ ^^ ^^°°'^ *°^^"^" watching and lis-
"dir was grey and who wore very large ela«P« «,,>!,
all soft and sweet, with a bird-like far^ ,n^ ■
muflfins, street doir<! at,^ oTi i, ■, "='<-'<«ns, raga-
heltKid AttL? . "'"''"^' *° "^°"'e and be
"cipea. At that moment thev were fnii ^f * .
i6 THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN
was brushed away from his forehead. He was grin-
ning hke a Cheshire cat and showing two rows of teeth
which would make a dentist both envious and annoyed.
There was a slight air of precocity about his clothes.
Two girls made up the rest of the party. Both were
young and slim and of average height. Both were
unmistakably American in their fearless independence
and cleanness of cut. One was dark, with almost
black eyebrows which just failed to meet in the mid-
dle. Her eyes were amazing and as full of danger as
a maxim, — large and blue — the most astonishing
blueness. They were framed with long, thick, black
lashes. Her lips were rather full and red, and her
skin white. She might have been an Italian or a
Spaniard. The other girl was blonde and slim,
with large grey eyes set widely apart, a small patri-
cian nose :jnd a lovely little mouth turning up at the
How long all these people would have stayed watch-
ing and listening no man can say. Suddenly, in the
middle of a bar, Peter sprang up and turned round.
His cry of joy and the way in which he plunged for-
ward and picked up the little bird-like woman in his
arms was very good to see.
"Mother!" he cried. "Mother! Oh, Gee! This
is great ! " and he kissed her cheeks and ner hands, and
then her cheeks again, all the while making strange,
small, fond noises like a little boy who comes back
home after the holidays.
" Oh, dear, dear Peter! " said the little woman, be-
tween tears and laughter. " How splendidly rough
Where shall I be
you are ! You shake me to pieces 1
able to tidy my hair?"
Then, with a rather constrained air and a touch of
nervous cord.aHty. Peter turned to his father and took
'•Youtokfine""^^ ""'' ^°"' ^^'''"^" '^ -'^'^■
Dr. Hunter Guthrie swallowed something and gave
a murmur which remained incoherent. Before he
could p„ll himself together, Peter was hugging his sis-
ter, who squealed like a pig from the tightness of this
man s mighty grasp. And then the brother came in
for u and wmced w.th pain and pleasure as his hand
was taken m a vise-like grip.
And then everybody except Peter burst out laugh-
ing. He stood m front of the fair girl, with his mouth
wide open, and held out his hand and said ■ " I was
gomg to hunt the whole place for you,- 1 beg your
and neck the color of a beet root, that the laughter
reached its climax. ^"S"kt
•'^K^^^T^'K'"'' '^' ^''' *° ''"'^ her voice.
\el Peter," she said, "that's going some. Is an
introduction superfluous in Oxford? Where did you
meet Betty Townsend ? " ^
"I haven't met her," said Peter. "I saw her this
"ornmg in the High for a second-" He ran hi
finger round his collar and moved from one foot to the
th.. earth had ever looked so uncomfortable.
i8 THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN
And then, with consummate coolness, Betty Town-
send came to the rescue. " Just after we arrived this
morning," she said, " and you were all buying picture
post-cards, I passed Mr. Guthrie when I was walking
along the High Street with Graham's friend. I recog-
nized him from the photographs that you have at
home, and I think he must have heard me ask, ' Who's
that ? ' I naturally gave him a friendly look. That's
" I didn't catch the friendly look," said Peter. But
he did catch the friendly tone and stored it up among
his treasures. Then he suddenly stirred himself, being
host, picked up his mother and placed her on his elab-
orate sofa ; gave his best arm-chair to his father ; waved
his sister into the window-seat with her friend, and
tilted Graham into a deck chair.
Standing in the middle of the room, beaming with
pride, he said : " How in thunder did you get here
so soon? /our wire said that you were coming to
tea, and I was going to meet the train leaving Pad-
dington at three-thirty. Gee ! This is the best thing
that ever happened! Will you lunch here? "
" Oh, no, dear ! " said Mrs. Guthrie. " So many of
us will worry your landlady."
Then out came one of Peter's huge laughs.
" Worry my landlady ? One look at Mrs. Brownstack
would show you that she got over being worried before
the great wind. Why she's kept lodgings for under-
graduates for twenty years. It's the same thing as
saying that she's spent the greater part of her life sit-
ting on the top of Vesuvius. I can give you beer, beef,
'he hotel." LikeVll diT T '""''"='' ^''h "« at
of digestion. '" '°*^'°"' »"« fi»' thoughts were
rort^°lre*tesr:'Kr' '^ ''''" ""° ''■•^ hed-
'owedhin^inTnTth'ro^t ,T': "'^ '^^^"^^ f°'-
-oment. eye to ey The h , ""^ "^"^ °"'" ^^ «
Instinctively the^grasped'hanH "^ *"'' '" '"° '""•
of both were filled S to ".ffT" '"' "^^ '"'"'^^
very flood of words- 'jotsS-'oif '''T"^
the other " Peterl " a J T, ^ ^''^ "'^" ' ^nd
kinky hair with a tei " ^''''^•" ''^"^hed his
ness. Peter 3ed '?• T '"^^""°" °^ 'hroati-
'.hat loaded he he ve" ^h '°';''°'""^''°" °^ '-"''^
rubbed shoulder w,th'.M?'''' °^ ^'=^"^^'' Shaw
Stevenson's " Trel I'e S J^", °" ''^"'^ ^^«^"
Webster-s Dictio^r " WBunr. S/f'"^'
c^-on a slushy novel by Carv£l3„?lX.^
The little mother, all a-flutter like « thr u
he w.„dow looking through the t ees at th ' "'' '*
buildings opDosite Tt,o 7 . ,^^^ ^^ the warm o d
a cupbLrdTs £0 Ihe ' R^ "'t ""^ P^^^""^ ■"'«
found nothing but a ftwh-'^r'" ^^"^^^ ''"^^
of cards, a box of chesl n . ' V"""' P"^"^^
<=n«s- -n, a couple of mortar-
20 THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN
boards with all their corners gone, and a large collec-
tion of white shoes in all grades of dilapidation.
"Are you all ready?" asked Dr. Guthrie, v-iL a
curious gayety. Among all this youth even ii ■ felt
" Rather," said Peter. " I could eat an ox."
He opened the door, touched his mother's soft cheek
with his finger as she passed, tweaked his sister's hair,
refrained from catching E t^y Townsend's eyes,
winked at his brother and drew back for his father.
Once in the quad Mrs. Guthrie whispered to Gra-
ham and went quickly out into St. Giles, beckoning to
the two girls to follow. She was very anxious that
Peter should walk with his father, and this — rather
pleased with himself — Peter did. He would have
taken his father's arm if he had dared, he was so
mighty glad to see him. Several times the Doctor
seemed about to do the same thing, but his hand hesi-
tated and dropped. And so these two fell in step and
walked silently along towards the Randolph Hotel,
passed by men in twos or threes, many of whom, to
the Doctor's inward delight, cried out, " Hullo,
Peter ! " with tremendous cordiality. It was not until
they turned the corner that the Doctor spoke.
" It gives me real pleasure to see you again, Peter,"
he said, with a quick self-conscious glance at the young
giant at his elbow.
" Thank you, father," said Peter, looking straight
ahead and getting as red as a peony.
'■"■e.s, weIl-k-„oui„g that he was n?'"''"^' '"'''"^
•Vew York W.ti, ^ portrait painter in
evervbo?on h best";'?"''' '''' ''"' '-' '^ P"'
themselves t"etbv ';"',;"''■ °"^ ="°'h- -"
THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN
Open Air Performance of " Twelfth Night," later in
the week, by the O.U.D.S., in the beautiful gardens
of Worcester. In a word, he played with these people
as a cat plays with a mouse and as he had always played
with Peter. He used all his brain not only to win their
confidence and friendship but to make an impression
which might afterwards be of use to himself.
Nicholas Kenyon was one of th .se men who are
born and not made. He opened his eyes to find
himself in an atmosphere of aristocratic roguery.
The beautiful old house in which his father lived was
mortgaged to the very tops of the chimneys. It was
maintained on money borrowed from the loan sharks at
an exorbitant interest. It was filled with men and
women who, like his own parents, were clever and
intellectual enough to work for their livelihood, but
who preferred to live on their wits and cling to so-
ciety by the skin of their teeth. In this atmosphere of
expert parasites — an atmosphere as false as it was
light-hearted — Nicholas was brought up. He was a
complete man of the world at fourteen. Even at that
age he gambled, .aced and borrowed money; and in
order to provide himself with the necessities of life
he ran a roulette table in secret at Eton and made a
book for the racing bets of the little boys of his own
kidney. Highly gifted and endowed with a most
likable personality, with the art of eluding punishment
for misdeeds brought to a masterly completeness, he
could have been shaped, under different circumstances,
into a man whose name would stand high in his coun-
try. With the proper training and discipline and the
wSeTaLt tr^sf ^^*^- ^° ^-^^ '-., l2
it in his power to C™r^^' '"' '°""'"' '^ ''=*''
was. he enteTe; oXTZ " '"°"^ '"P'°'"^*- ^s it
the university foMhrwo /inT'' "' ^"""^ '"-
was entirely unscrupuirus uX T""' '"P^"'^- "«
He quietly used the r^e„ 1 ^u "° '°^' °f ''°"°^-
a^usen^ent. nfoltr "osp tl tv" '°/"'"''' "" "'^'^
against havin, to';orr He t'ur'ned ° '""" ^""
>nto a sort of busine« , * *"' Personality
dends. His breedZ? 7 I '"" '" '■^^"'ar divi-
na.e and hi inhet„Vab hfwo r7' ''^ ^^"-^--
any set or society mLL S u'",?' '°'^'orUbly into
one suspected hi J bTclse "s Snl' "'!"^*'''^- ^^°
Picfon. His knovJiedro h 1. "' '^''""'^^ ^"^-
the paradox of his beTng ptl " fh " '°" ''" '''''
-ance. and he always bi^ JTeiin^ ' "" °' "-
ances that he was broke to f 1, ^..''"^ "^^ acquaint-
struck the honest not^f?. "'"''• ^" 'his way he
vey false in,pres ion3' H. ""'" "'° '^'^''^■" *° -""
made hi„,sel'f so a" ractt Tn^ '"*• """''• ^"^
-n were delighted to C to LT^ ""'''' ^''^^
to entertain him -and h. ^! P*"** '" oi'der
ettes were freshly rolled WhZTT ^" "»^'■-
'o be of the bes'k^own m!ke He °" ' "^ '^ "'^
fdious reader and had on^e read^n"""' ' """' '^^
poetry which had startWf^hTi ^^'' °" '"°'^<=™
He contributed sho^slSla ttfc^to" h'1 "f ^^•
-e to time Which tickled the int^tSSi^r/r
24 THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN
criminating ; and as a fresher had given a performance
of Pucl< in one of the productions of the O.U.D.S.,
over which undergraduate critics went raving mad.
Even in his deahngs with his friends, the chorus girls,
there was a certain touch of humour which made it
impossible even for the most strai^htlaced to say hard
things of him.
In a word, Nicholas Kenyon was a very dangerous
man. His influence was as subtly bad and pernicious
as a beautifully made cigarette heavily charged with
dope; and he would at any time if necessary have
stolen his mother's toilet set in order to provide him-
self with caviar, plover's eggs and a small bottle of
And this was the man who had shared rooms with
Peter Guthrie during his terms at Oxford, and of
whom the Doctor spoke that first night of his stay at
the Randolph Hotel as an unusually charming person
whom it was a pleasure to meet.
In fact, he was the sole topic of conversation in all
the bedrooms of Peter's family party before the lights
were tu/ned out. Mrs. Guthrie said, as she sat in
front of the dressing-table combing her hair : " How
lucky it is, dear, that Peter has found such a wonder-
ful friend here ! He is so English and so refined — in
every sense of the word a gentleman." The Doctor
thoroughly agreed with her and made a mental note to
invite Kenyon to his house in New York in the autumn.
Belle Guthrie took her brushes into Betty's room,
which was next to her own, and looking extremely
attractive in a pale pink kimono, with her dark
confided to 'he ' Std Z' 1 '^^'^' '^"^"^^^ '^"'^
•"ore bully time even .hn u u'"' ^°'"& '° ^ave a
qt T u . ^ " '"^" she had houed " i i
^t- John's College," she saiH " ^ u '°^'^
old streets and all L u ti ""^ ^^^'^ wonderful
quently-S ' Vr^VZ^ ''''' ^^'"'^'^ ^^"^e so fre-
Kenyon. He is 3" '"'S "^^^ ="'°"t Nicholas
such perfectlj :.on^~/„° fh"""? -*"y-says
'i'd you see [he way ',''"? I^ '"' °u' "^ ^^^^'
'good-night'?" "^ ''* '"^ ^''^n he said
"The light was shi„in;o„ Peter t Jac ':;' f ^^''^■
good enough for me." ' ^"'^ ^''^^ ^^s
What Graham thoueht nf v^^
Peter's rooms, to wh"cf he LJ ''°\'""' °"' ""
brother when the fam y were leffTth t 1"' '''^
their return from a m,L 1 ^^ *'°'^' ^^t"
hght after din"er-i I ' "'''' '" '''^ "'°°"-
stream on which th^ht T"!; •'°°"''"^' "^""^v
-hions and listened' t^^ h tfn'a" ^""*^^" ^"^""^
throbbing son^ of fh- u appreciation to the
- an JCil^i^^^^^^^^ ^^ep voice
ir '^ ''' "^--/armptrent'-o/^^
some^rnds'Thisf^'l^T.^"""'^ ^° ^'^ — of
r abirtri^^ £Lb?\T '''-T ^-"^-
'-•^io^Iy warm and Pe e "s !fd .' "'^'" ^'^^ ''^-
""■nerous leaded Dane '^'"''°'^'' ^'*'' '^eir
beaded panes, were wide open. It was
THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN
eleven o'clock and the life of the town had almost
ceased, although from time to time little parties of
undergraduates passed along St. Giles and their high-
spirited laughter drifted up.
After having put cigarettes in front of his brother,
Peter flung himself full stretch upon his sofa, with a
pipe between his teeth. " Now for your news, old
man ! " he said. " I'm glad you like Nick. He cer-
tainly is one of the best. What seems perfectly amaz-
ing to me is that while I'm still a sort of schoolboy,
rowing and reading, you're a full-blown man earning
your living. I'd give something to see you buzzing
about Wall Street with your head full of stocks and
shares and the rise and fall of prices. How do you
Graham ran his hand rather nervously over his
mouth. " It's great ! " he said excitedly. " That's
what I call life. Gee ! You've no idea how fascinat-
ing it is to gamble on the tape and get a thrill every
time you hear it tick. It's like living among earth-
quakes. I love it ! "
" Gamble ! " Peter echoed the word with a touch
of fright. " Good Lord ; but you don't gamble
surely ? I thought you were a broker and looked after
other people's concerns ! "
Graham shot out a short laugh. " Other people's
concerns? Why, yes; but we're not in Wall Street
for ether people. I've had the luck of the devil lately
though, — everything I've touched has gone wrong.
However, don't let's talk about that. I'm here for a
holiday and a rest, and I need 'em. I believe I was
™*' '"s:i ;;rr,'rr ^'°" ■ '^'
things out At th " ''^^^ t° straighten
twe't,thousa:^dcSiJ"'"* '"°'"^"' ^'^ °- 'bout
^^^^7ivz%'ri:''' ''" ''-^ ^'^^^^~
Harvard. Peter sat ,n ^ ""^^ °"'^ J"^' °"' °f
the/s roo:^ w th su ^a S""" n°" ''^" ^° '"'^ ^-
six months ago-when j had . " '^^^-^ - about
thousand dolJrs I had . n^,^ .."''' ' '''" ^°'- '^ve
after she had a fit he ave V'"' ^'''' ™°'''-- ^"^
to pawn. She t £ H; t '"' °^ "^^ ^'^^'^
two months I got them out °- c""' *°°- ^-'^n
well that timefaL m"he" ^b;"' t'^' '"'" ""^ ^"^
cailed me a ve;, devrbo;7nd':::d'^^t;; ^K '-
you have, darhng, but plea e dlv ^ ■ ^' ^ '''^'"
'"y God, Peter ' You V •! f ''° '* ^^^'" ' ' Oh.
■"eans. It's hell ' It" r" ^^'' ^V^" Stree
oftheseda;s:La ea7rd°T-' '^'^ '■*■- O-
-e plunge' and then "U^ m'eT ■""" ''" ^°
the country breeding Jn. . '"""^ '3"'"'^ i"
-t. a„, it- r'^TnVitSol^--^ ^
I've not begun to live and '^''■^ ^°""&" *an I am.
THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN
peritnenting with microbes that he hasn't one idea of
what his boys are doinf , or are likely to do — abso-
lutely content to let them find their feet unaided!
Well, I suppose he knows what he's doing, — but what
you've just told me makes me wonder whether it
wouldn't be wise for him to experiment a little bit with
us for a change. What d'you think ? "
Graham shrugged his shoulders. With the light on
his face he looked older than his brother, and there
was something in his eyes which showed that he had
already gazed at life very much more closely than the
big healthy fellow who was his host. " Oh, well," he
said — pouring himself out a rather stiff whiskey —
" we've never known quite what it was to have a father,
— I mean except as a sort of aloof institution, a vague
person who educated us and placed us out. I should
resent his butting in now. There's someone coming
up your stairs, isn't there ? "
There was. It was Kenyon, who rattled money in
his trousers pocket with a little smile at the corners
of his sophisticated mouth.
Peter put in the time of his life during the next
few days, and like the great big simple fellow that he
was, revelled in being the little hero of his family.
From morning until night he kept them on the move,
taking' them to all his favorite haunts in the town and
out in the country, introducing to them whole flocks of
looked up at" STT "" ''^ °"^ ^^^" •'^
.-« c, -Good „,„ p„„,. :,:".f'^'^^ -~
Ko* M,t° • "•'"'■ """I l>is hand to his
H. did„., c,ch ,h, l«,k of „.,™| i„ 1,1,
THE SIN'S OF THE CHILDREN
just as well. Seeing her great big boy crumpled up
over his oar Lefore he was assisted out of the boat,
seeing him stand rocking like a drunken man with his
great clest heaving and his face the color of a green
apple, she leaned over the rail and cried out : " Oh,
my dear, what hare they done to you? Oh, Hunter,
you must ■lot let him do these things, he'll kill him-
self! Oh, Peter, Peter!"
As a matter of fact, no one heard her. There was
too much good solid roar going on. Every lusty-
throated St. John's man was shouting at the full capac-
ity of his lungs. Oh, but it was a good scene! And
for the quiet, studious Doctor who had sat day after
day for the great>r part of his life watching bacteri-
ological experiments, with the most intense interest,
it was one that caused his blood to move almost dan-
gerously through his veins and make him shout for
the first time in his life.
It had a different effect upon temperamental Belle,
who danced with excitement and kept on saying, in a
sort of refrain, " Oh, I'm crazy about all this — simply
crazy ! " As for Graham, even the thrill of Wall Street
seemed poor to him in comparison with this stirring
scene, — the wild rush of men, the rhythmetic plunge
of oars, the glorious muscular effort and the frenzied
Betty merely smiled, clasped her hands together and
held her breath. It seemed to her that in Peter all the
heroes of her youth, — Brian de Bois Guilbert, Ivan-
hoe and the rest, — were epitomized in the form, the
splendid young giant form of her fellow-countryman.
aXuf ; wS" M "r ''"^ "^"'''^ *° '-" over
^tl. ,uiet„ and si^pCl^^n^^ rhr^t ^s^
She had never .n her life been so deeply stirred and
who can wonder at th,*5 -n. • . "^ -"^ ""rreu, and
fMii „% ^'- ^•'^'■^ 's indeed something
full of ,nsp,rat,on about these undergraduates^! r^/
colleges. It IS unique and splendid and sends voi.na
:HeVl'ttf t:°r ^^'^ ^-^'^ -^ bea^t-tC'
ones and with the love and loyalty for th^.V ,1,^,
mater which makes then, better abl to'sete L woll
who need then, and the country to which ZyT
And when having changed iiis shorts and got once
more into his flannels, Peter went up to the roof^ofT!
barge, stinging with health and glow Lr^i
natural pride and satisfaction it was the n T
whose hand he first took, and";h:' d:; tV wHo^Sd ■
My son, my dear son!" It was an extr,nrH
rnoment for Peter, who had ne^ i^h s r ;" Jr^
f ?h '"'"t""'"^ '^'■"^■- "'^'^'' "-ted between
h.s father and himself so near to crumbling
weJe S o the th ""1 'fV"' '"°*" ^"^ Graham
^n unto ,h. wing „, to rt,, „, ,„ „, , ™j,5.ri.
32 THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN
It was one of those warm, clear, silver nights which
the fickle climate of England sometimes produces ap-
parently to show what it can do when it likes. The
moon was full and the sky was bespattered with stars.
The trees on the smooth lawn round the old college
flung their shadows as though in sunlight and it was
to a seat under one of these that Peter led Betty just
before midnight, having very nearly danced her off her
feet. They sat down panting a little, and laughing for
no reason, and listened for a moment to the strains of
the band which drifted through the open windows of
It was not in Peter to do anything by halves. He
worked and played like a Trojan and put his back into
everything that he took up. He knew by this time,
short as it was, that he was wholly and completely in
love with the little girl, the first sight of whom had
made him catch his breath. With a peculiar kind of
grimness he had made up his mind that she was for him
if he could win her, and til V.n: orcNious night he
had dreamed of her as his fuu:c '. itc, as the girl who
would stand by his side, helpmate and everlasting
lover, and for whom he would work well and live
well and carry her with him rung by rung to the top
of the ladder. He told himself when he awoke that
he was a presumptuous ass even to dream that she
would care for him. What was there in him for such
a girl to care about? All the same, he set his teeth
and from that moment laid all his future plans and his
hopes and ambitions and all the best of his nature, at
her littk feet — and knew perfectly well that if Betty
Tot,:Vr '"■'" "'="'"^">- '^ -""^ -'^ alone
Peter had. "^1 ^ t °" "r""'^'' ^'"^ ^^^"^ »-«^-
his heart re nd pure "hT" "' ^°'^'""''>'' ^^P'
never philander^ ' L ke fhe T' "\"-'""-he had
c-uly imaginative, beltve. hat hT ^ ' i°'fi 'r':"^ T
where the rainbow ends Peter laW nl V^' ^^^''
influence upon the boy which h,H^ '"°'''"-
-te thin,. Who^ev^r it tTs ^m? ^"T
to remember and to think h. u V, ? ^ ^"""S*"
mother as his sweethear . ."' '°°'^''' "P°" his
cot at night nTasked God"? "m" l'' "^"^ °^'^^ '''^
touch of her Toft lin u° '"'"'' ''™ ^"^ '«^t the
pressed upon him Z T" '" '°'^''^^' '""^ ''^^ -"
another sLl t^; trTe™ Hif " ^^'"^^
The numerous tender services tL • '™ ''°™'-
thoughtfulness of this ™1 L ''"""' '"''""^'
huilt up by him into 1 '"°'her-woman, had been
Betty came-a J, in T 'f °" ^"^ ^ '"^^-'ar.
another mother- aLshe. '' r^""'^^-^ '' °-e
her finger and wallTed s JSr^t •'' "' "^"^ ^^■^^
-h had been .ept ^rr i^Z^tt? ii:
34 THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN
and incoherence, that he was . nan in love, although
a psychologist or even an ordinarily observant girl
could very easily have told hov/ Betty felt.
" Topping, isn't it? " he said.
" Simply wonderful," she replied.
" Not a bit."
" Pretty good floor, eh ? "
" Perfectly splendid."
" Gee! I shall miss this place."
•' Why, of course you will."
"All the same, I shall be mighty keen to get at
things, — and begin."
" Yes, of course you will."
" How do you know ? "
"Oh, that's easy."
"Is it? How?"
" Well, don't I know you? "
" Do you ? I wish you did."
Up in the branches something stirred. It may have
been Cupid — probably it was.
But silence followed this conversational effort — a
silence broken by a great heaving sigh, mostly of ex-
citement, and the strains of the band which drifted out
of the windows of the College Hall.
And over them both, as over all other men and
women, young and old, at the beginning and at the
end, hung the moon and the stars.
How good it is to be young and in lovel
Unnoticed by Mrs. Guthrie and her two boys,
toere was something more than a little pathetic in the
Doctors eager, wistful attitude toward the rather
thoughtless high-spirited, seething youth in the mid-
dle of which he found himself for the first time
1 h.s man had never been young. The atmosphere
of the farm on which he had been born killed youth
as foul a.r k.lls a caged bird. Poverty, sordidness and
the gnm, constant struggle to live made his childhood
and early days utterly devoid of the good sweet things.
His mother, worn out and dispirited, died in giving
h.m b,rth, and his father, bitter, lonely and filled with
the irony that comes from a long and unprofitable
hand- o-hand fight with mother-earth, let him bring
himself up. He was turned out to work at a time
when most lads are sent to school. He had to trudge
daily into the straggling, one-eyed town, at an early
hour, to report at the chemist's store where he obtained
employment as an errand boy. Most of the small
wages he earned were required by his father. From
almost the very beginning life was to him a sort of
whirling stream into which he had been flung before
having been taught to swim. Mere self-preservation
demanded that he should keep himself afloat He
picked up education as a stray dog picks up an occa-
W hT ?"^"''• '°"^^^^' S^^^' g"t i" this
boy and deep down in his soul an ambition to become
something better than his father, whose daily wrestle
36 THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN
with nature — the most relentless of task-mistresses
— had warped his character and stultified his soul.
Young Hunter shuddered at the thought of living al-
ways on the farm, of grubbing in the earth, of planting
and hoeing and reaping, of facing the almost inevi-
table tragedy of spoiled crops and ruined hopes, and
the yearly set-backs of advancing freights and higher
wages. He looked with growing horror and detesta-
tion at the farm implements among which his father
spent his life; and while he ran his errands, carrying
medicines and soda syphons, he nursed a dream in his
little cold heart, which grew out of the smell of medi-
cines and the talk of illness that was all about him in
the chemist store. It was to become a doctor and tend
the needs of humanity and, if it was in his power, to
save to other children the mothers who brought them
No wonder Dr. Hunter Guthrie wore strong glasses
over his short-sighted eyes. At all times, with a sort
of greed and an almost terrible eagerness, he read
every medical book on which he could lay his hands, —
in bed by the light of one candle, in the cubby-hole at
the back of the store under the glare of the unshaded
electric bulb, in trolley-cars and trains, and on the
stoop of the shabby farmhouse so long as the light
lasted. Later, after his day's work, he attended night
classes, and even as he walked from the farm to the
town he read. Spending sleepless nights and living
laborious days he followed the example of many other
brave and determined boys whose names gleam like
beacons in the history of their country. He worked
h.s way through the necessary stages until finally, af-
rLfi^ty '° ''■'"""' '^^' ■' ""^'y broke his
health, he became a qualified doctor. In order to earn
the money for his courses he was at different times
bell-boy m a country hotel, an advertisement writer in
a manufacturer's office, a clerk for a real-estate man
and a travehng salesman for safety razors. His vaca-
tions were more arduous than his terms, and during
hese he earned the money with which to pay his col-
lege expenses. Every step up the ladder of innumer-
able runps — which sometimes seemed to him impos-
sible to chmb-was painful and difficult. So much
concentration was needed from the very beginning-
so much condensed determination and energy required
— that at the age of twenty-five he seemed to have
hved twice that number of years. No wonder then
that the all-conquenng youthfulness of all tl - under-
graduates amongst whom he found himself at Oxford
awoke a sort of envy in his heart and startled him who
had never been young. There was no meanness,
jealousy or sense of martyrism in his feelings as he
watched the kaleidoscopic picture of university life-
only a sort of wonder and amazement that there were
men m the world so lucky -so indescribably fortunate
as to be able to carry boyhood and all its joys forward
to an age when he had forgotten that such a period
existed. Many times during those interesting and
st.rr.ng days he stopped suddenly and thanked his God
that he had been able to do for his own boys those
th.ngs wh.ch no one had ever done for him, and give
them such a chance in life as he had never had Ac-
THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN
tually to see Peter, his eldest boy, proving his muscular
strength and his mental ability and moving among his
fellows with such splendid popularity, filled him with
pride and gladness. Here indeed was a very concrete
evidence of his reward * it that long, arduous struggle.
Like most men who have concentrated upon one
thing. Dr. Guthrie was a child when it came to others.
Athleticism, of which he knew nothing, filled him
with admiration. The knack of conversation amazed
him. Even to his wife he found it difficult to talk.
To force himself to confide was almost impossible —
it was like blasting a rock. One afternoon however
he got nearer to an intimate expression of his feelings
than ever before — perhaps because he was still under
the influence of the intoxication of the youthfulness
all about him.
Kenyon had driven them out after tea to Shotover
Hill. All the young people had gone on to Cuddes-
den, leaving the doctor and his wife to sit and look
down into the valley far below in which nestled the
town and all its colleges and spires. It had been a
golden day and the sun was setting with all the dig-
nity and pomp of early summer, making the thin line
of the Thames shine like a winding silver ribbon.
There was something of exultation over the earth that
evening and of untranslatable beauty, and the evening
song of the birds was like that of choristers in a great
Unusual words seethed in the doctor's head. He
was moved and thrilled. The rest and the relief of
leaving his work, all the bustle and stir of the new life
L J u .""" ^ temporary figure, seemed to take
h.m back to h.s own early days when, with the little
woman who sat by his side, he had stood with her in
their first house, newly married
of that faithful woman and «ed her cheek with a
ouch of passion and gratitude. "My darling," he
fhl^' r f 7f '°"''' '"^ P'°P*''y ^"-"^ °f the things
that I feel about you and my children and the goodness
of God. There are tears in my heart, and strange
eelings. 1 feel oddly young and strong. I want S
laugh and cry. I'd like to pick wild^oweTand
make a little crown for your head. Don't laugh at
me — please don't laugh."
,> I^l "' u' 7°"!'" ^°°^ ^'' *'" ''^"d and pressed
t to her cheek. " I laugh because that is how I feel,
00. she said,-" young and glad and very happy to
see my big Peter doing such wonderful things and
!i ? I "" ^°'' y°"'^" ^"'^^'^ ^"d striven.-
and how fine it is to see some of the results of it I
was a litUe afraid before we came here that we might
m Peer d,flferent-altered-perhaps older-but
he s just the same. He's exactly like you "
J. A B°T '^°°^ ^'' ^^'^ ^"d a sudden pain
twisted his thin, studious face. " Oh no, no," he said
was never like that. I wish to God I had been."
•1 T. "t' ^'''' ^''"* ^^ '^ 'hat I've worked
ght and day. He's my idea of a man. He's doing
11 the things that I'd like to have done. He's me as
I might have been if I'd had any luck-anv sort of
. - ■ i ,'-
40 THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN
a chance. Do I regret it? Am I jealous? No; be-
cause if I hadn't lived such an opposite life I mightn't
have desired to give my boy all this." He waved his
hand towards the spires that rose in all their signif-
icance out of the town away below. And then, with
intense eagerness and a ring of wistf ulness in his voice
that brought tears to his wife's eyes, he bent towards
her. "Do you think he realizes this, Mary? Does
Graham ever stop to think how hard I've worked to
put him in Wall Street? Does Belle ever wonder
what it's cost me in youth and health to give her so
much more than she needs? I'm — I'm a queer,
wordless, foolishly shy man. Old since the time they
all three began to think and use their eyes,— neces-
sarily concentrated and aloof away in that laboratory
of mine, and — and sometimes I wonder whether my
children know me and understand and make allow-
ances. Do they, Mary, my dear one? Do they? "
" Yes, my man, my brave and splendid man," she
replied, '" they do, they do I " And in saying this she
deliberately lied,— out of her great and steadfast love
for this man of hers she lied.
No one knew so well as she did that the father of
her children might almost as well be a mere distant
relation who lived in their home for reasons of con-
venience and allotted money to their requirements at
the proper time. No one knew so well as she did that
Hunter Guthrie's tragic lack of childhood had dried
out of his nature the power of understanding children.
Never having been a child in any sense of the word —
never having known the inexpressible joy of a moth-
was either working hard or tired out - he was unable
to conceive what his own children needed in addition
to all that they got hourly from his wife and from W^
own work. It had always seemed to him that in the
possession o a mother they had everything good thai
God could give them. It seemed to him thaf his own
part was performed by providing for their needs. No
man desired to be the father of sons and daughters
more than he did. No man was prouder in the po
session of them than he was and had always b^';
sent h^ to' f °l *"' ""'^ '''' ^"-^ ^- house
sent him to his work with that sense of religion of
which Carlyle wrote. To watch them shapinjfrom
2f^r, /v ° '°"'*' ^'' "^^ """^^ satisfactory an"
beautiful thing in his life. To be able, year after
beTaS b° 'r ^"'/''" '""^^ ^- them was £
be and biggest reward - far greater and more glor-
ous than the distinction he earned for himself and
the intemational reputation that increased with each
hfd f^r"'""- ''"'' ^''™' ^'^ ™°"*hs after Peter
had left home to go to Oxford with a Rhodes scholar-
hip he found himself unexpectedly endowed to the
extent of over three million dollars under the will of
a la e wealthy patient, so that he might, in the old
nmns own words, "devote himself, without the f r t
he nnMj ;r"f ' '"'"''°°^ ^^ « practitioner, to
he noble and limitless work of a bacteriologist for
he benefit of suflfering humanity all over the world "
111" Vrl "'^^ °^ ""'' ^''"'^'•- that he offered up
thanks. With what immense pride he notified the
42 THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN
authorities at Harvard that his son was independent
of the scholarship, which was free to send another
man to Oxford. With what keen pleasure he was
able to buy Graham a seat on the Stock Exchange,
bring Belle out as a debutante and send his little Ethel
to tho Iiest possible school. These things he could do,
and did, but he could not and had never been able to
do for them a better thing than all these,— win their
confidence, their deep affection and their friendship.
That gift had been killed in him. It could not be
acquired, taught or purchased, and he had always been
as much out of touch with his boys and girls as though
he were divided from them by a great stone wall. It
had always been with them, "Look out! Here's
father!" instead of "Hello! Here's Dad!" His
entrance into their playroom was the signal for silence.
The sight of his studious face and short-sighted eyes
and distrait, shy manner chilled them and reduced them
to quietude and self-consciousness and suspicion. If
he had treated them always as human beings, played
with them, sat on the floor and built houses with their
bricks, thrown open the door of his study to them, if
only for half an hour every day, so that there might
be no possibility of its becoming a Blue Room; if he
had, as they grew into the habit of thinking and ob-
serving and remembering, told them about himself
and his own boyhood and in this way inculcated a
mutual interest, a desire to respond and open out ; if,
before the two boys had gone to college he had had
the courage' to act on the earnest advice of a friend
and speak to them on the vital question of sex, give
his house about his ear« T»,» , a 1 ^ "
it .11 "^ "IS ears, i he sad and tragic oart of
't all was that she knew utterly that na l^T
Belle had told Betty that she was « crazy " about
Nicholas kenyon. There is usually a wildness of ex
aggerat,on about this expression which renderst ^"
about a tenor and a pomeranian, a so^alled joke H
'n regard to Kenyon. however, Belle was reallv ^..A
Wy .r..y In I,, „„, accu„,e dlc.io:."'.^"' T,"
44 THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN
him vastly attractive. Kenyon was not surprised.
Already he was a complete expert in the art of making
himself loved by women. He knew exactly what they
liked him to say and he said it with a touch of inso-
lence which took their breath away and a following
touch of deference which gave them back their self-
respect. Belle was very much to his liking. Her
rather Latin beauty, which was rendered unexplainable
by the sight of her parents — her incessant high spirits
and love of life — her naive assumption that she was
the mistress of all the secrets of this world, amused,
interested and tickled his fancy. Her beauty, fresh-
ness and youth pleased him as an epicure, and he went
out of his way to be with her as much as he could. He
had no intention whatever of falling in love with her,
— first of all because it was all against his creed to
fall in love with anyone but himself ; secondly, because
his way '. living demanded that he should have no
partner >a his business,— all that he could win by his
wits he would need. Nevertheless, he was quite as
ready as usual to take everything that was given to
him, and give nothing in return except flattery, well-
rounded sentences and a good deal of his personal at-
During the week that passed so quickly he had only
been able to see Belle with her people, and when he
found that this bored her as much as it bored Uim, he
set his brain to work to devise some plan bj- which he
could escape with her from the party for a few hours.
Needless to say he succeeded.
On the night before the party were to leave Oxford
he arranged another evening trip on the river, maneu-
vred Peter into one punt with his father and mother,
Graham and Betty, and got into another with Belle
For some little time he poled along closely behind
them, but as the river was full of similar .arties he
found it easy to drop behind and dodge deftly into a
back wrter. Here he tied up to a branch, set himself
down on the cushions at Belle's side and lit a cigarette
"How's that?" he asked.
Belle laughed a little excitedly. "Very clever,"
she said. " I wondered how you were going to do
He didn't find it necessary to tell her that he had
performed a similar trick a hundred times. " Under
the right sort of inspiration," he said, "even I can
develop genius. Tell me something about New York,
and what you find to do there."
" I should have to talk from now until to-morrov/
mommg even to begin to tell you," she said. " I only
came out last winter, but the history of it would fill
a book. New York is some town and I guess a girl
has a better time there than anywhere else in the
world. Why don't you come and see something of it
Kenyon leaned lightly against the girl's soft
shoulder. " That's precisely what I'm going to do,"
he said. " Your father has given me a cordial invita-
tion to stay at his house, and I shall go over with
Peter in October."
"Oh, isn't that f5ne!" cried Belle. "You'll love
the place — it's so different."
46 THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN
" I'm not woirying about the place," said Kenyoa
" I'm simply going for the chance of dancing with
you to the band which really does know how to play
rag-time. It'll be worth crossing three thousand miles
of unnecessary water to achieve that alone."
" I don't believe you," said Belle ; but all her teeth
gleamed in the moonlight and her heart pumped a
little. How wonderful it would be to become the wife
of the Honourable Nicholas Kenyon, who seemed to
her to be everything that was desirable.
Kenyon picked up her hand and just touched it
with his lips. "You don't believe it? Well, we'll
see." He knew very well that if he had chosen to do
so he could have kissed her lips, but his policy was to
go slow. His epicurianism was so complete that he
liked to take his enjoyment in sips and not empty his
glass at a gulp. This girl whose imagined worldliness
was so childlike was well worth all his attention. He
looked forward with absolute certainty to the hour
when he should place her on his little list of achieve-
ments ; but like all collectors and connoisseurs he added
to his pleasure by winning his point gradually, step
by step, with a sort of cold-blooded passion.
Belle was accustomed to men who were a little crude
in their naturalness and who immediately voiced their
admiration and their liking with boyish spontaneity.
She had strings of beaux of all ages who immediately
sent her flowers and presents and dogged her heels
from dance to dance and rang her up constantly on the
telephone and generally showed their eagerness with
that lack of control which was characteristic of a na-
tion which had deliberately placed women in the posi-
tion of queens.
Perhaps it v a xause this man's methods were so
different that .U round him so attractive. He .ed
her vanity and piqued it at the same time. He said
more by raying nothing than any man had ever ven-
tured to do. and he retired so quickly after an amaz-
ing advance that he left her assuming more than if he
although she had already dipped into the fastest New
York set, that she should believe that at the end of
every man's intention there was a marriage and a
^rt of throne in his house. She little knew Nicholas
Kenyon. She had had the good fortune to meet men
in New York, and not collectors.
"What are your father's plans when he leaves Ox-
ford? asked Kenyon, leaning a little more closely
against the girl's soft shoulder.
" Why we're going to Shakespeare's country, to the
English lakes and then to Scotland, where father's
ancestors lived; and then in August we shall go to
London for a week, and go home on the Olympic
Why don t you go over with us? "
"I should like nothing better," said Kenyon, "but
as a matter of fact I shall wait until Peter has got
hrough his various engagements. He rows at Hen-
ley in July, you know,- the boat is entered for the
Lady s Plate,— and then he comes home with me He
wants to shoot my father's birds in August and see
a little of English country life before he settles down
to his law work in America."
- ^- '-"H
THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN
Belle was silent for a few moments. She wished
that this wonderful week could be extended over the
whole of her holidays. She knew, and was really a
little frightened at knowing, that when she left Ox-
ford the next day she would leave behind her a heart
that had hitherto been quite untouched. She was
amazed and even a little annoyed to find that a mere
week had brought about such a revolution in all her
feelings and in her whole outlook on life. She had
meant to have a perfectly wonderful time before fall-
ing in love.
" I suppose," she said, " that we shan't hear any-
thing of you until we see you again, unlesi — unless
you write sometimes to mother and tell her how you
are and what Peter is doing."
Kenyon didn't even smile. " Peter will write to
your mother once a week, as usual — he's very con-
sistent — and I'll get him to put in a postscript about
me, if you like. I shall have some difficulty in pre-
venting myself from writing to you from time to
time, although I'm a child in the art of letter-writing."
" Why should you prevent it ? I should simply love
to have your letters."
"But isn't your mother a little old-fashioned?"
"Maybe," said Belle, "but does that matter?
You've not met any American girls before — that's
easy to see. We do just what we like, and if our
mothers don't agree they don't dare to say so. Shall
I tell you why ? Because it wouldn't make any differ-
ence if they did."
" Then I shall write," said Kenyon, " and give you
brief but eloquent descriptions of English weather
Enghsh poht.cs and the condition of nj hver-tha;
n.e to el?' , ""'" " "'" "^ P^^^^''^ -^^ 'o^
me to leave your letters about," she said
postscrits'"'''" "'''''' '""''"''"^ '^^' ^°" '^^"^°'- the
"Im crazy about you!" said Belle; and this time
"Nfckr" wi; '''"■'* ^''"''^ ^'''' ^°'<^^ shouting,
eether nL ^^f"'T" ^*"y°" «^"*"^d himself to-
Sc. '„ T''"'"'^ "' ''•^'"^ '•■^^"^bed, stood up
"Th/ n T.' P"""'^ ^"* '"'° t''*^ •"«■•" stream
The call of duty," he said -" such is life." It was
When he saw the other punt he asked Peter, with a
IhucWe ' ' "^ " ^''' ^'^ '° ^^^•'^'"'^ 'Miotic
The landing stage was in the shadow, which was
just as well. When Kenyon gave his h;„d to b1
to help her out of the punt, he drew her close against
him and with a touch of passion as unexpected as the
sudden flash of a searchlight across a daJk sky fa
kiss on her l.ps that took her breath away
ann'lnH'7'^'"''' '° '*"= ^°'^' '^' ''""^ "" Peter's
arm and dared not trust herself to speak. For the
first t.me m her young life she had caught a glimpse
so THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN
of its meaning. It left her strangely moved and
Little Mrs. Guthrie walked back with Kenyon, very
proud of the fact that he was Peter's friend.
Poor little mother!
On the steps of the Randolph Hotel, Mrs. Guthrie
turned to Kenyon and asked him, with one of her most
motherly smiles, to have some supper with them. Tel-
egraphing quickly to Peter and Graham that they were
not to accept the invitation, Kenyon said : " Nothing
would give me greater pleasure — absolutely nothing.
Unfortunately Peter and I have already accepted an
invitation from two of our Dons and we cannot
possibly get out of this dull but profitable hour."
"How very disappointing!" said Mrs. Guthrie.
"How silly!" said Belle.
Betty merely said, "Oh! " but the rest of her sen-
tence was condensed into one quick look at Peter.
Peter, utterly without guile, turned round to Nich-
olas Kenyon in blank amazement. " It's the first I'vi.
heard of it," he said. " What on earth do you mean.
Two of the Dons? Who are they ? "
But Kenyon was an artist and a strategist, and
therefore a liar. " My dear old boy ! What would
you do without me? I'm your diary, your secretary,
your guide, philosopher and friend. If you've forgot-
ten the engagement I certainly haven't" And he
Scenting adventure and gathering that the two Dons
were ,„ a 1 probability coming from the chorus of
_^ I he Pirates of Penzance," Graham joined in quickly.
I suppose I can't come and listen humbly to the
learned conversation of these two professors? "
can f.n'.r "^ "°'- " '^'"^ '^^"y°"- "No doubt you
can ten them more about Wall Street in five minutes
S m' rT-T '"™ '" '^"^'^ '■^^^- Therefore,
\.^ ;,.""'""' ^"^ ^^'^'■'^ ^^ '""=' all say 'good-
night. We II rejoin you in the morning for breakfast
as arranged, and wind up what's been f he pleasan «
week of my life, by driving out to WooLckfo;
It was all done in the most masterly manner and
when the three men left the hotel arm in a™ th^y
were not gu.ded by Kenyon toward St. Giles, but to
wthtrLtr ''' "^^'" ^^^ ^'"^^ ^•-"' *° ^^"
••^Z^^'i /^ l^''-" "'^"^ ^''''' i-npatiently.
Mother had set her heart upon having us to supper '•
Mother has had us all day," replied Kenyon.
Bear m mmd the fact that there are other women in
the world to whom we owe a little gallantry. You and
Grahan, are going to eat Welsh Rabbit at the some-
what humble rooms of my little friends, Lottie Law-
rence and Billy Seymour."
"I'll see you damned first I " said Peter. '« IVe no
use for these people. Come on, Graham, let's go back "
Kenyon s face was wreathed in smiles. "It can't
THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN
be done, dear lad," he said. " Your mother would be
the last person on earth to permit you to be discourte-
ous to our two distinguished Dons, and by this time
in all human probability Betty will be preparing for
Peter had been building all his hopes on another
hour with Betty. She was leaving Oxford with his
people the next afternoon and he wanted above all
things, however incoherently, to let her know some-
thing of the state of his feelings. He had never been
so angry with Kenyon before. "Curse you!" he
said. " You've spoiled everything. If you must play
about with these chorus girls why can't you do it
alone? Why drag me in? "
Kenyon's eyes narrowed. "Only the angels die
young, Peter, my friend," he said. "As I've been
obliged to tell you before, you stand a pretty good
chance of an early demise. Have you ever heard the
word ' priggish ' ? For a whole week I've played the
game by you and devoted myself, lock, stock and bar-
rel, to your family. Mere sportsmanship demands
that you make some slight return to me by joining my
little party to-night. Don't you agree with me,
Graham ? "
Graham's vanity was vastly appealed to by the
fact that this perfect man of the world had taken
him into his intimacy. Hitherto he hadn't met Eng-
lish chorus girls. He rather liked the idea. " Why,"
he said. " I can't see why we shouldn't go. I'm with
you, anyway. Come on, Peter. Be a sport."
But Peter held his ground. He had all the more
reason for so doing because he had met Betty. " All
right! •• he said. " You two can do what you jolly
well like. Cut me out of it. I shall turn in. If
thats being priggish — fine. Good-night."
He wheeled round and marched off, and as he passed
beneath the windows of the Randolph Hotel he drew
up short for a moment and with a touch of knight-
hness which was quite unself-conscious he bared his
head beneath the window of the room in which be
believed that Betty was to sleep, but which, as a mat-
ter of fact, harboured a short, fat, wheezy Anglo-In-
dian with a head as bald as a billiard ball.
Kenyon disguised his annoyance under an air of
characteristic imperturbability. "Well, that's our
Peter to the life," he said, taking Graham's eager arm.
" He's a sort of Don Quixote — a very pure and per-
fect person. One of these days he's likely to come
an unholy cropper, and that's to my way of thinking
what he most needs. I don't agree with a man's being
a total abstainer in anything. It narrows him and
makes him provincial. Tl- n, too, a man who fancies
himself as better than his , Hows is apt to wear a halo
under his hat, and that disgu>ting trick ruins friend-
ship and leads to a hasty and ill-considered marriage
with the first good actress who catches him on the hop
and makes use of his lamentable ignorance. Come
along, brother, we'll see life together."
"Fine!" said Graham. "Me for life all the
So these two,— the one curiously old and the other
dangerously young,— made their way to the stage door
54 THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN
of the Theatre Royal and waited among the little
crowd of undergraduates for the moment when the
ladies of the chorus should have retouched their make-
up and be ready for further theatricalisnis.
Lottie Lawrence and Billy Seymour were the first
out. The latter's greeting was exuberant. " What-
ho, Nick ! Where's the blooming giant you said you
were going to bring? "
" Otherwise engaged, dear Billy ; but permit me to
introduce to you a financial magnate from the golden
city of New York."
Billy was young and slim and so tight-skirted that
her walk was almost like that of a Chinese Princess.
Even under the modest light of the stage door-keep-
er's box her lips gleamed crimsonly and her long eye-
lashes stuck out separately in black surprise. Her
small round face was plastered thickly with powder.
She was very alluring to the very young. Her friend
had come from an exactly similar mould and might
have been a twin but for her manner, which was that
of the violet — the modest violet — on a river's brim.
Kenyon hailed a cab, gave the man the address in
Wellington Square and sat himself between the two
girls, with an arm round each.
Billy Seymour had taken in Graham with one expert
glance of minute examination. "Graham Guthrie,
eh ? " she said. " It smacks of Caledonia, bag-pipes
and the braes and banks o' bonnie Doon. I take it
your ancestors went over on the S. S. Mayflower, of
the White Star Line — that gigantic vessel which fol-
lowed the beckoning finger of Columbus — and started
the^race which invented sky-scrapers and the cuspi-
Graham let out a howl of laughter and told himself
tl^V"^ '" °' ' ^°°*^ ""'"'"&■ '^P^"^"y «^ the
ladies knees were very friendly.
Lottie Lawrence placed her head on Kenyon's
shoulder, s,ghed a little and said : " Oh. I'm so Sd
ami^so hungry; and I've a thirst I wouldn't sell for a
Kenyon tightened his hold. " All those things shall
be remedied little one," he said. " Have no fSr "
...Li"* •"^' "'*'''*• "'' ^^^'' «y« when they en-
tered the s.t.ng-room of the sordid little house in
which a senes of theatricals had lodged from tim^
.mmemonal were a half-dozen bottles of champagne
- ent m by Nick's order. The two girls showed
bZ T °" '" f ''=*'"'""^^ '" ^'ff--^"* ways.
Billy fel upon one of the bottles as though it were
her long-lost sister, pressed it to her bosom and placed
a passionate kiss upon its label; while Lottie, with an
eloquent gesture, immediately handed Graham a rather
battered corkscrew. "Help me to the bubbly, boy "
she said. "My throat is like a limekiln." ^'
All the clocks of the Qty of Spires ere striking
hree as Kenyon and Graham supported each other out
mto the quiet and deserted street There was much
powder on Graham's coat and a patch of crimson on
Kenyon's left cheek.
a ^!i:':hS^^'''^^'^^'"'-^^>''"-<> Kenyon
56 THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN
" A hell of a big L," said Graham, with a very much
too loud laugh at his feeble joke. " You certainly do
know your way about."
" And most of the short cuts," said Kenyon dryly.
" Presently I shall scale the wall of St. John's, climb
through the window of one of our fellows who's about
to take holy orders, and wind up the night in the hos-
pitable arms of Morpheus." This eventually Graham
wat:hed him do, with infinite delight, and was still
wearing a smile of self-congratulation as he passed
the door of his mother's bedroom in the hotel and
entered his own.
His father heard the heavy footsteps as they went
along the passage, but imagined that they were those
of the night watchman on his rounds.
Fate is the master of irony.
The following morning at eight o'clock Peter, as
fit as a fiddle, stalked into Kenyon's bedroom and
flung up the blind. The sun poured in through
the open window. Innumerable sparrows twittered
among tht ; es in the gardens and scouts were mov-
ing energet: illy about the quad. From the other
windows the sounds of renewed life were coming.
The great beehive of a college was about to begin a
new and strenuous day.
Kenyon was sleeping heavily with a blanket drawn
about his ears. His clothes were all over the floor
and a tumbler one-fourth filled with whiskey stood
on he dressing-table among a large collection of ivory-
backed brushes. liri,s, studs, tie-pins and other para-
phernalia which belong to men of Kenyon's type,-
the bloods of Oxford. With a chuckle. Peter dipped
a large sponge in the water of the hip-bath which had
been placed ready on the floor, and throwing back the
blanket squeezed its contents all over Kenyon's well-
The effect was instantaneous. The sleeper awoke,
and cursed Peter's howl of laughter at the sight of
this pale blinking man with his delicate blue silk
pajamas all wet round the neck advertised the fact to
the whole college that he was up and about
Kenyon got slowly out of bed. "There are fools
-damned fools -and Peter Guthrie." he said
quietly. " What's the time ? "
" Time for you to get up. shave and bathe, if you
want to breakfast at the Randolph. How late were
you last night ? "
" Haven't a notion," said Kenyon. " The first
faint touch of dawn was coming over the horizon, so
far as I remember, when your little brother watched
me climb through the window of the man Rivers upon
whose 'tummie' I planted my foot. For a man
who s about to enter the Church he has an astounding
vocabulao' of gutter English. You look abominably
fit. old boy -the simple life, eh? Heigh-ho 1-
Manipulate this machine for me while I'm doing my
hair. He picked up the small black case of his
safety-razor and threw it at Peter, who caught it
58 THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN
Then he got into a very beautiful silk dressing-gown,
stuck his feet into a pair of heelless red morocco slip-
pers, and with infinite pains and accuracy made a cen-
tre parting in his fair hair, in which there was a slight
From his comfortable position on the foot of the
bed Peter watched his friend shave, — a performance
through which he went with characteristic neatness.
It was a very diflerent performance from the one
through which Peter was in the habit of going. Soap
flew all round this untidy man, giving the scout much
extra work in his cleaning-up process.
Kenyon didn't intend to enter into any details as
to the orgy of the night before. He knew from pre-
vious experience that Peter's sympathy was not with
him. For many reasons he desired to stand well with
his friend, especially looking to the fact that he needed
an immediate loan. One or two of his numerous
creditors were pressing for part payment. So he let
the matter drop and took the opportunity to talk like
a father to Peter on another point which had grown
out of the visit of his people. "Tell me," he said,
"what is precisely the state of your feelings in re-
gard to your sister's friend? It seems to me that
you're getting a bit sloppy in that direction. Am I
" No," said Peter, " ' sloppy ' isn't the word."
"Oh! Well, then, what is the word? I may be
able to advise you."
"I don't want your advice," said Peter. "My
mind is made up."
Kenyon turned round. "Is that ■
Peter nodded. " It's always quick when it's inev-
"Oho! What have we here — romance ? "
" Yes ; I think so," said Peter quietly.
"Who'd have thought it? Our friend Peter has
met his soul-mate! Out of the great crowd he
has chosen the mother of his children. It is to
laugh ! "
"Think so?" said Peter. "I don't."
Kenyon put down his razor and stood in front of
the man with whom he had lived for several years
and who had now apparently come up against a big
momwit m his life. It didn't suit him that Peter
should be seriously in love yet. He looked to his
friend to provide him with a certain amount of leisure
in the future. -His plans would all go wrong if he
had to share him with someone else. He had imagined
that his friend was only temporarily gone on this little
girl whose brief entry into Oxford had helped to make
Eights week ve-y pleasant. It was his duty to find
out exactly how Peter stood.
" Do you mean to tell me," he asked, " that you've
proposed to Betty Townsend ? "
" Not yet," sai< Peter, " but I'm going to this morn-
ing— that is if I have the pluck."
" My dear fellow," said Kenyon, with a genuine
earnestness, "don't do it. I've no doubt she'll jump
at you, being under the influence of this place and
seeing you as a small hero here; but take the advice
! ' i
I I ,:l§
6o THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN
of a man who knows and bring caution to your rescue.
What'll happen if you tie j.mrself up to this girl?
After all, you can't possibly be in love with her —
that's silly. You'ri; under the influence of a few sil-
ver nights, and that most dangerous of all things —
propinquity. Dally with her of course, kiss her and
write her letters in which you quote the soft stuff of
the poets. That'll provide you with much quiet
amusement and assist you in the acquisition of a liter-
ary style; but, for God's sake, don't be serious.
You're too young. You've not sown your wild oats.
What's the use of taking a load of responsibility on
your shoulders before you're obliged to do so? I'm
talking to you like a father, old man, and I've the
" Oh yes," said Peter, " you've the right — no man
better — but you and I look at things differently. I
want the responsibility of this girl. I want someone
to work for, — an impetus — an ultimate end. It may
seem idiotic to you that I know the right girl directly
I see her, but all the same it's a fact. You see my
undergraduate days are almost over. When I go
home in the fall I shall start earning my living. What
am I going to work for? A home, of course, and a
wife and all that that means. If that's what you call
romance, thank you, it's exactly what I want. Do you
get me? "
Kenyon shrugged his shoulders. " Then I don't see
that there's anything more to be said. Does all this
mean that you're going to chuck me? Supposing
Betty accepts you? Are you going to dog her foot-
steps for the rest of the summer and leave me in the
" Oil Lord, no! " said Peter.
Thank God for small mercies ! And now if you'll
give me a little elbow-room I'll have my bath
"Buck up! Breakfast
"Right-ol" said Peter,
at nine o'clock."
He went out, not singing as usual but ivith a cu-
rious quietness and a strange light dancing in his
K :/ >M„ was left the sole master of that little bed-
room. Ab he finished dressing he marshalled his
tli')iit;hts and into them entered the figure of a certain
very beau ;i Jul person who lived in a cottage on the
borders o his father's estat.. liefore now she had
tvisted yo mp men, quite a.^ r. ;'iar<t:c as Peter, out of
their engagerients to s; ; ;^k-
see that she ■ vorked h r ui;
intend that his frienc .^h .u!.
person except Nichol: : Ktr.'
^rls. He would
i'eter. He didn't
^ himself any
<ng as re r. aid
It -vas a rather curious meal,— this final breakfast
at the Randolph Hotel. There were several under-
currents of feeling which seemed to disturb the atmos-
phere like cross winds. The Doctor and Mrs. Guthrie
were genuinely sorry that the week had come to an
end. It was one which would be filled with memo-
ries. Graham would very willingly have remained at
1 1 •
THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN
Oxford as long as Kenyon did. He had fallen a
complete victim to the attractions of this master of
psychology. He regarded him as the very last word
in expert worldliness. He paid him the highest tribute
that he considered it was possible for one man to pay
another, by calling him " a good sport," and he looked
forward with enormous pleasure to the time when he
would be able to show Kenyon the night side of New
York, with which he had himself begun to be well
As to the two girls, wonderful things had happened
to both of them during that emotional, stirring, pic-
turesque and altogether " different " week. It seemed
almost incredible to them they had been in that old
town for so short a time, during which, however, their
little plans — their girlish point of view — had un-
dergone absolute revolution. The high-spirited Belle,
who had hitherto gone through life with a consistent
exuberance and rather thoughtless joy, was rendered
uncharacteristically serious at the knowledge that she
would not see Nicholas Kenyon again for some
months. Not for a moment did she regret the fact
that she had fallen badly in love with him. It was a
new sensation for her, and young as she was, it was
the new thing that counted. Her mind was filled with
dreams. In imagination she walked from one series
of pictures info another and all were touched with
excitement, exhilaration and a sense of having won
something, the possession of which all her friends
would envy her.
In going over in her mind all that Kenyon had said
to her, she could not put her finger on any actual
declaration on his part; but his subtle assumption of
possession, the way in which he touched her hand and
looked at her over other people's heads with eyes which
seemed to embrace her. seemed to her to be far more
satisfactory than any conventional set of words ordi-
nary under such circumstances. Then, too, there was
that wonderful and sudden kiss on the landing stage
in the shadow. Why, there was no doubt about it.
She had, like Caesar, come and seen and conquered.
She was to be the Hon. Mrs. Nicholas Kenyon.
daughter-in-law of Lord Shropshire, of Thrapstone^
Wynyates. What a delightful surprise for father and
mother, and how proud they would be of her!
Betty knew that Peter intended to make her his
wife. She knew it and was happy. His very inco-
herence had been more eloquent to her than the well-
rounded sentences of all the heroes of her favorite
novels, and if he never said another word before she
left, she would be satisfied. In her heart there was
the sensation of one who had come to the end of a long
road and now stood in a great wide open space on
which the sun fell warmly and with great beauty.
Not much was said by anyone, and the question of
the afternoon train which was to leave at four-thirty
was consistently avoided by them all.
Breakfast over, the whole party followed Kenyon
into the street, where two cars were waiting for the
trip to Woodstock. They were to lunch at the old inn
which stood beneath the gnarled branches of the oaks
that had sheltered the Round Heads and Rovalists.
64 THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN
The first car was Kenyon's roadster, in which he
placed Mrs. Guthrie, the Doctor and Graham. He had
intended that Betty should sit by his side as he drove,
and that Peter should take Belle in his two-seater.
But Master Peter was too quick for him this time.
He had touched Betty on the arm and said : " You're
coming with me." And before Kenyon could frame a
sentence to break up this arrangement these two were
off together with the complete disregard for speed
limits which was peculiar to the Oxford undergradu-
ate. Kenyon had the honesty to say about this to
himself that it was well done, but all the same he was
immensely annoyed. As he drove off with Belle on
the front seat he was not, for at least a mile, a very
talkative companion. Belle put his silence down to
the fact that she was going away that afternoon.
' Along St. Giles, past the burial ground, the Roman
Catholic Church, Somerville, and into the Woodstock
road as far as the Radcliflfe Infirmary, Peter kept the
lead, and then the big car overtook him and left him
behind. Graham waved his hand and shouted some-
thing which Peter didn't catch. It was probably
facetious. As far as Wolvercote Peter kept in touch
with the car in front, when he began to fall gradually
behind. He had a plan in the back of his head.
The morning seemed to suit all that he had to say,
if he found himself able to say it. The earth was
warm with the sun. The hedges and trees were still
in the first fresh vigor of early summer. Everywhere
birds sang and were busy with their young.
Peter pulled up short at the edge of a spinney.
" Let's get out of here," he said, " I want to show you
a corking little bit of country." And Betty obeyed
without a word. She rather hked being ordered about
by this big square-shouldered person
They didn't go far.- hardly, in fact, fifty yards
from the car,- and when they came to a small ooen-
>ng among the beeches where bracken grew and " bread
and cheese ' covered the soft turf with their little
yellow heads, Peter said: "Sit down; I want lo
speak to you."
And again Betty obeyed without a word. It was
coming -she knew that it was coming — and the
only thing she was afraid about was that Peter would
hear the quick beat of her heart.
He laid himself full stretch at her feet, threw off his
cap arid ran his fingers through his hair. " You know
this place," he said.
" I ? No, I've never been here before "
frien?'' tT ^'''- ^''"''" ^'" ^'"^ ^'^'^ ^""^
triends. They come out every night from the first
of May until the first of October. Can't you see the
marks their feet have maae as they danced here in the
nng? Its awfully queer. This is the first place I
came to after I got to Oxford -all the leaves were
red -and I sat here one afternoon alone and won-
dered how long it would be before I should look up
and see you. I've often come here since, winter and
summer and listened for sticks to crackle as you came
lau" h/'^'°"^'' the trees to find me. Why don't you
" Why should I ? "
66 THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN
"I knew you wouldn't. If you had it wouldn't
have been you."
He turned himself round on to his elbows and
looked up at her, and remained looking and looking.
And Betty looked back. Her heart was beating so
loudly that it seemed to her that someone was whack-
ing a carpet somewhere with a stick. She wondered
whether she would be able to hear Peter when he spoke
again, — if ever he did.
And Peter said : "I'm going to begin to be a man
exactly five months from to-day. That is to say, I'm
going into a law office in New York to make a begin-
ning. I'm going to work like the dickens. Do you
Betty shook her head and then nodded. He was a
long ti'me commg to the point. If he wasn't quick
she'd simply have to scream. Her heart was up in her
throat — it was most uncomfortable.
Peter went on. Somehow words came easy to him.
The earth was so friendly and so motherly and so very
kind, ai.d after all this was his spot and she was there
at last. " I forget the number of the house," he said,
" but up on the eighth floor of it, facing south, there's
a most corkmg apartment. The rooms are large and
can be filled with big furniture and enonnous booiv-
cases. I'm going to work to get that. I don't know
how long it'll take, but I'm going to ask you to help
me to get it. Will you?"
Betty nodded again. Someone was beating the car-
pet in a most violent manner.
Peter, without another word, sprang up, put two
large strong hands under Betty's ■ Ibows and set her
2l r I'n . t"'"' "P '" '^' '°P ''""'^" °f his coat
and he held her there tight and it hurt her cheek. But
oh. how fine and broad the chest was behind it and how
good ,t was to nestle there. She heard him say much
that she forgot then, but remembered afterwards -
simple boyish things expressed with deep sincerity and
a sort of throb — outpourings of pent-up feelings-
not m the very least incoherent, but all defirate and
veor good. And there they stayed for what appeared
to be a long t.me. The man with the carpet had gone
away but without looking up Betty knew that there
were hundreds of little people dancing around them in
the ring and the httle clearing full of the yellow heads
of wild flowers seemed to have become that great open
space and out of it, between an avenue of old trees
stretched the wide road which led to,- the word was
the only one in the song that filled her brain,- moth-
erhood ! Motherhood !
A rabbit ran past them frightened, and Betty sprang
away. Peter! What will the others say"'
Peter shook himself and his great laugh awoke the
echoes of the woods. " I don't care what anybody
says, he answered. " Do you ? "
" Ves. Let s go. We shall be late for luach '•
And Peter picked her up, carried her to the car
kissed her, put her in, and drove away
68 THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN
Peter and Kenyon left the station arm in ann.
They had watched the train round the corner and dis-
appear. Many hands had waved to the crowd of un-
dergraduates who had come to see their people and
friends oflf. Peter had stood bareheaded with his hand
still tingling with the touch of Betty's.
They walked slowly back to college, each busy with
his thoughts. Exultation filled Peter's mind. Ken-
yon was wondering how much he could touch Peter
for. In the procession of returning undergraduates
they made their way under the railway bridge and
along the sun-bathed but rather slummy cobblestone
road over which the tram-cars ran. They passed the
row of little red brick houses — most of which were
shops — and the factory, stammering smoke, and
turned into the back way which led by a short cut to
Oxford had resumed her normal atmosphere. Fa-
thers and mothers, uncles, guardians, brothers, sisters
and cousins, who had all descended upon the town, had
departed. No longer were the old winding streets set
alight by the many colored frocks of pretty girls, nor
were they any longer stirred into a temporary bustl'.;
by the great influx of motor-cars. Undergraduates
held possession once more and with their peculiar
adaptability were making hasty preparations for the
Peter led the way to his sitter, loaded his inevitable
pipe and .at in the sun on the sill of the open window
With fastidious care Kenyon stuck a cigarette into a
long meerschaum holder and laid himself down on the
settee. He had worked very hard during the week
and had very much more than carried out his promise
to Peter to make himself pleasant. The moment had
come when he might certainly lead the way up to his
,. ,f,f '"' ^°°^ ** "^""'^ *"" °f ^'^ ^"end's mouth
W hat dyou think ? " he said. " W hen I was saying
good-bye to the Governor on the platform he took me
aside and gave me a cheque. He did it in his curious
apologetic way which always makes me feel that he's
someone else's father, and said : ' I think this will see
you through for a month or two.' Gee! It's some
cheque, Nick! I don't think I shall have to toudi the
old man down for another bob until I have to book my
passage. His generosity Iea\es me wordless. I wish
to God I'd been able to say sonietliing nice. As it was
I had to tell mother to thank him for me." He went
over to his desk, fished out a cheque-book, sat down
and made one out in his large round boyish liandurit-
Kenyon watched him intently. He hoped that it
might be for hims-lf and fnr fittv sovcreiRn.s. That
amount, carefully split up. would keep some of his
more pressing tradesmen quiet for a short time
" Is this any good to you. old man ? " said Peter
He dropped the cheque on to Kenyon's immaculate
waistcoat. It was for a hundred pounds.
. -IP master para.Site v.as iaken by surprise almost
il, .. ;l
THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN
for the first time in his life and he was sincerely
touched by this generosity. " My dear old Peter !
This is really devilish kind of you I I'm exceedingly
grateful. My exit from Oxford can now be made
with a certain amount of dignity. I'll add this amount
to your other advances, and you must trust in God and
my luck at cards to get it back."
"Oh, that's all right," said Peter. "You'd have
done the same for me. What's the good of friend-
ship anyway if a man can't share his Ltjnuses with a
pal? Well, well! There goes another Commem: —
the last of them for us. Everything seems awfully
flat here without, — without my people. What d'you
think of the Governor? "
Kenyon folded the cheque neatly and slipped it into
a small leather case upon which his crest was em-
bossed in gold. It was one of the numerous nice
things for which he owed. " Your father," he said,
" is a very considerable man. I made a careful study
of him and I've come to the conclusion that all he
needs from yov and Graham is human treatment. If
he were my father I should buy a metaphorical chisel
and an easily manipulated hammer and chip off all his
shyness bit by bit as though it were concrete. Prop-
erly managed there's enough in Dr. Guthrie to keep
you in comfort for the rest of your life without doing
a stroke of work. What age is he — somewhere
about fiity-three I suppose? In all human probability
he is good — barring accidents — for another fifteen
years or so. Then, duly mourned, and, I take it, con-
siderably paragraphed in your newspapers, he will go
to h,s long rest and you will come into your own.
W.th even quite ordinary diplomacy you can use those
hf een years to considerable advantage to yourself -
<lallymg gently with life and adding considerably 'to
your experience, making your headquarters at his
house. You can do the semblance of work in order
to satisfy h.s rather puritanical notion,— but I can't
see that there'll be any need for you to sweat. For
instance become a poet -that's easy. There are
stacks of sonneteers whom you could imitate. Or you
could call yourself a literary man and do nothing more
than establish a sanctum-sanctorum in which to keep
a neat pile of well-bound manuscript books and ac-
quire a library. If I were you I should adopt the lat-
ter course - it sounds well. Ifll satisfy the old man
and all the while you're not writing the great book
he II pat himself on the back and congratulate himself
on having had you properly educated. During all this
t.me you can draw from him a very nice yearly in-
come, and then make your splash when natur- has laid
her relentles: han.l upon the old man's shoulder."
There was a moment's pause, during which Peter
looked very curiously at the graccfn.l :n,!r,!ent r.ian who
ay upon his settee. " If I didn't k.,.. that you were
talking for effect." he said, " I should tai . you by .he
scruff of your neck and the seat of yor- ' r^ u„s a d
|.url you down-stairs. I know you Letter th.r, to
believe that you are the cold-blooded brute that voii
make yourself out to be. Anyhow, we'll aot d'ows
tlie matter. The one useful thing you have san —
and on which I shall try to act -is that Graham anC
72 THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN
I must try to be more human with the Governor. He
deserves it. What's the program? "
" For me," said Kenyon, " dinner with Lascelles and
bridge to the early hours. With good cards and a
fairly good partner I shall hope to make a bit. What
are you going to do? "
" I shall dine in Hall," said Peter, " and then go out
for a walk."
" I see." Kenyon got up, filled his cigarette case
from Peter's box and stood with his back to the man-
tel-piece. " You proposed to Betty to-day, didn't
you ? "
" How the deuce did you know that ? "
Kenyon laughed. " My dear fellow," he said,
" everybody knows that. You exuded romance when
you arrived late at the Inn. The very waiter guessed
it, and was so stirred, being Swiss, that he very nearly
poured the soup down your mother's neck. And when
your mother looked at you I saw something come into
her eyes which showed me that she knew she had lost
you. I wouldn't be a mother if you paid me! " And
then he held out his hand with that charm of which he
was past-master. " ' Friend that sticketh closer than
a brother,' three years ; dashed bit of a slip of a girl,
one week,— and where's your friend? Well, good
luck, Peter! She's a nice little thing. Dream your
dreams, old boy, but don't altogether forget the man
who's been through Oxford with you."
Peter grasped the hand warmly. " Don't be an
ass ! " he said. " Go and brush your back hair. It's
all sticking up."
And when he was alone, except for a golden patch
of evening sun which had found its way through his
wndow and had spilt itself on his carpet. Peter pulled
OGod! he said. " Help me to become a man."
No one knew, because no one was told, of the many
hours of gnef which little Mrs. Guthrie nduredTer
r-ef. One, the mev.table realization that the time
her soa She remamed his mother, but she was no
°Kr ."""^ °'''T:''' ^-^'^ '^^'^ -t told he
about Betty at once and bad left it for her to find out.
as the others d.d. And this hurt badly. He had al
S\t ;" r *\'^''^ °' *^"-^ her'everything.-
fnH fi ^r T' V^'" "' ^"^ ^'""'^ °" - '«vel with her,
great height. Every one of his numerous letters writ-
ten wh.Ie he was so far away from home contained the
outpounngs of h.s soul -his troubles, d.fficuhies tri-
umphs, wonderings and short incoherent cries' for
help. As Kenyon said, she had only to look at him
with R.r ^r''''f '"'° '^' °''' ^"" ^' Woodstock
w.th Betty to know that she had lost him. She waited
or h,n, ,hat afternoon to tell her.- but he never
hat he M '' T ^" '"'° '^' *"'■" ''he hoped
that he would remember, but he didn't. That wasn't
««C«OCOfY DESOIUTION TtST CHART
(ANSI and ISO TEST CHART No, 2)
_^ APPLIED IM/IGE li
^BT- 'fiSJ East Mgin Street
^JS Rochester. Nem Yorh 14609 USA
"■^= (716) *S2 - 0300 - Phone
^= (7t6) 288 - 59B9 - Fo-
74 THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN
like her Peter, she told herself again and again. What
was she to think but that it only needed one short week
and a very pretty face to make him forget all the long
years of her love and tenderness. It was very, very
It is true that for the remainder of their holiday,
during which, with her husband, Graham, Belle, and
Betty, Mrs. Guthrie went from one charming place to
another, seeing shrines and looking down from fa-
mous heights on garden-like valleys of English coun-
try, Peter's letters came as regularly as usual. They
were no shorter and no less intimate; and in the first
one that she received, the day after leaving Oxford,
he told her his great news,— but he hadn't spoken of
it he hadn't cot.ie to her at once, and she felt with
a great shock of pain that she was deposed. Also she
was well aware of the fact that the same posts which
brought her letters brought letters to Betty — and she
Uttering no word of complaint, even to the Doctor,
little Mrs. Guthrie nursed her sorrow and went out of
her way to be very nice to Betty. Her mother-in-
stinct told her that she must win this girl; otherwise
there was a chance that she might in the future see very
little of Peter. In all this she had one small triumph,
of which she made the most. Her letters from Peter
contained more news than those written to Betty, and
thus she was able to score a little over the girl. With
an air of great superiority, very natural under the cir-
cumstances, she told Betty and the others the manner
in which Peter had gone down from Oxford; of the
dinner that was given to him by the American Club,—
a great evening, during which he was presented with a
silver cigarette box covered with signatures,— of the
farewell luncheon with his professors and the delight-
ful things that they said to him there; of his strenuous
doings at Henley, the stern training, the race itself in
which his boat was beaten; of the wild night on the
Vanderbilt barge; of the few cheery days spent in
London with a bunch of the Rhodesmen; and finally
his preparations for his visit to Thrapstone-Wynyates
in Shropshire, the famous old Tudor House of Ken-
Three times during these pleasant weeks Peter ran
down to see,— not her, but Betty, and went out with
her with his face alight and then hurried back to his
engagements, having given her, his mother, who loved
him so, several hugs and a few incoherent words. It
was the way of life, youth to youth, but it was very
On the afternoon of the fifth of August, when the
party crossed the gangplank at Southampton to go
aboard the Olympic, little Mrs. Guthrie told herself
that in a few minutes she would see Peter's great form
elbowing through the crowd, although he had not said
that he would be there to say good-bye. She almost
hoped that something might prevent him from being
in time, because she knew that he would not come solely
to hold her in his arms, but for another reason. Noth-
mg, however, did prevent him. He followed them al-
most instantly on board ; and although he never left her
side, he surreptitiously held Betty's hand all the time
76 THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN
A smile of unusual bitterness crept all about the
little woman's heart. It was very hard. He was her
boy — her son — her first-born and the apple of her
eye. She had come up for the first time to one of the
rudest awakenings that a mother can ever know. And
presently when the cry, " All ashore that's going
ashore ! " went up and Peter put both his big arms
about her and said, " Good-bye, mummie, darling, I
shall come home soon," she broke into such a fit of
weeping and kissed him with a passion so great that
the boy was startled and a little frightened. There
was no time to think or ask quesHons. There was
his father's hand to shake, and Graham's, and Belle
to kiss. There was also Betty, and she was suddenly
hugged before them all.
As the big liner sent out its raucous note of de-
parture and moved away from the dock the little
mother was unable to see the bare head of her boy
above the heads of the great crowd. Her eyes were
blinded. " He doesn't understand," she said to her-
self. " He doesn't understand."
Poor little mother ! It was very hard.
The cottage on the borders of Lord Shropshire's
park was just as pretty and just as small as the little
lady who lived there. It was appropriately called
" The Nest," although there was no male bird in it
and it was devoid of young ones; but Mrs. Randolph
Lennox was so like a bird, with her triUy soprano
vo:ce, her quick darlings here and there and the pe-
culiar way she had of getting all a-flutter when people
called, that the name of her charming little place —
first given by Kenyon — stuck, and .vas generally used
It was perched up on high ground overlooking the
gardens of the old Tudor House,- those wonderful
itahan gardens in which Charles II had dallied with
his mistresses on his return from his long, heart-break-
ing and hungry exile. It was tree-surrounded and
creepers grew up its old walls to its thickly thatched
roof. For many years it had been occupied by the
agent of the estate, until — so it was said -it was
won by Mrs. Lennox from the present Lord Shrop-
shire as the result of a bet.
No one had ever seen Randolph Lennox and many
people didnt believe that he was anything more than
a myth; but the little woman gave herself out as the
widow of this man and was accepted as such Her
income was small, but not so small as to preclude her
from playing bridge for fairly large stakes, dressing
exquisitely, riding to the hounds and keeping an ex
tremely efficient menage, consisting of two maid serv-
ants and an elderly gardener. It enabled her also to
spend May and June in London yearly at a little hotel
in Half Moon Street, Piccadilly, from which utterly
correct little house she was taken nightly to dinner
and to the theatre by one or other of the numerous
young men who formed her entourage. Never taken
actually into the heart of London society, she man-
aged with quiet skill to attach herself to its rather
78 THE SINS OF IHE CHILDREN
long limbs, and her name was frequently to be found
in the columns of society papers as having been seen
in a creation by Paquin or Macinka at Ranalagh or
Hurlingham, the opera, or lunching at the Ritz.
At one time the tongue of rumor had been very
busy about Mrs. Randolph Lennox,— " Baby " Len-
nox as she was commonly called. It was said that she
had beei. lifted out of the chorus of the Gaiety at the
age of nineteen by His Serene Highness, the Prince
of Booch-Kehah ; that she had passed under the con-
trol of Captain Harry Waterloo, and eventually, be-
fore disappearing for a time, figured in the Divorce
Court as a corespondent. The tongue of rumor is,
however, in the mouth of Ananias, and as Baby Len-
nox never spoke of herself except, a little sadly, as a
woman whose brief married life was an unfortunate
memory, her past remained a mystery and people were
obliged to accept her for her present and her future.
She was so small — so golden-haired — so large eyed
— so fresh and young and dainty — so consistently
charming and birdlike — that she was the Mecca of
very young men. With the beautiful trustfulness of
the male young they believed in her, and over and over
again she could have changed her name to others which
were equally euphonious and which, unlike her own,
could be discovered in the Red Book. But as there
was no money attached to them she continued to re-
main a young and interesting widow and to live in the
little cottage on the hill and to pop in and otit of the
Shropshire house as the most popular member of its
Whether there was a- y truth in the story that the
present Lord Shropshire was related to her in a fa-
therly way no one will ever knov except perhaps
Nicholas Kenyon, who in his treatment of her was
uncharacteristically brotherly. These two, at any
rate, had no secrets from each other and both regarded
life from the same peculiar angle. As parasites they
had everything in common and they assisted each other
and played into each other's hands with a loyalty that
was praiseworthy even under these circumstances.
Nicholas Kenyon's mother — a very large, hand-
some woman with brilliant teeth and amazing good-
nature, who, even when in the best of heahh, never
finished dressing till four o'clock in the afternoon and
then never put much on — was undergoing a rest-cure
in the west wing of Thrapstone-Wynyates when the
boys arrived for the shooting. For nearly a year she
had been playing auction every night until the very
small hours and had, while in a nervous condition,
stumbled across an emotional pamphlet written by a
Welsh revivalist, which sent her straight to bed. She
was really greatly shaken by it and perhaps a little bit
frightened. It did not mince words about the future
of women of her type, and she was shocked. Heaven
seemed to her to be a place into which she had the
same inherited right to walk as the Royal Enclosure
at Ascot; but this vehement little book put a widely
different point of view before her. Therefore it hap-
pened that the first woman to whom Peter was intro-
duced was the little widow, " Baby " Lennox, who was
acting as hostess.
THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN
Two evenings before she met Peter she had received
a letter from Kenyon, which ran as follows :
" Carlton Hotel,
"Dear Old Girl:
" I shall turn up at home on Thursday in time for tea.
I hear that mother is enjoying herself in the throes of
some very pleasant imaginary complaint of sorts and has
retired to the solitude of the west wing. After a busy
season she no doubt wishes to read Wells' new novel of
socialism and seduction and the latest Masefield poems,
which always remind me of the ramblings of rum-soaked
sailors in a Portsmouth pub. I, for one, shall miss her
florid and inaccurate presence and the deliciously flagrant
way in which she cheats at Bridge ; but if father has gath-
ered round him an August house-party on his usual line^,
i look forward to a cheeiy time, — dog eating dog, if I
may put it li -e that. I am bringing with me the man
with whom I have shared rooms at Oxford, — Peter
Guthrie. He's the American of whom I have opoken to
you before. I am especially anxious for him to meet
you, because, while under the hypnotic influence of Ox-
ford in all the beauty of late spring, he has been fool
enough to get himself engaged. Now, not only is Guthrie
very useful to me, having a wealthy father and being
himself a generous soul, but I am going to New York
with him in October to see if that city can be made to ren-
der up some of its unlimited dollars, and I don't want him
to be hanging, booby-eyed, at the heels of a girl until such
time as I have found my feet. You have a wonderful
way with the very young and unsophisticated and I shall
really be enormously obliged if you will work your never-
failing wiles on my most useful friend and draw his at
present infatuated mind away from the nice, harmless
little girl vvho has just sailed. Fasten on him. my dear
our ho , day. Go as far as you dare or care.- the farther
the better for my sake and eventually for his own H
down from his self-made pedestal It will a ^''^^S'"
" Yours ever,
" N. K."
Quite unconscious of this scheme, Peter fell into the
sttir T^ h- ''" '^^"'^"' °'^ '•°" '^^^ ^^^
usual gusto. To his unsuspicious eyes Baby Lennox
was quite the truist charming woman'he had evt^^t
. He was delighted, a little surprised and even a little
ealotis at the relations whi.h existed between Kenyon
treated'eacTth "' "" """^'^ *° "°''- '^^^ *"
Sher arf " '"°''' "'^ P^'^ °'- '''°tf>-«. than
eah other '°"' T^t ^"^'^^'^ "Pen and frank with
each other, walked about arm in arm, played tennis
82 THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN
and billiards together and often spenv hours in each
other's society, laughing and talking. He noticed, too,
that Kenyon always called his father " To^s," a name
which had grown into daily use from the time when,
as a tiny lad just able to talk, the things that most
caught his fancy were Lord Shropshire's riduig-boots,
in which he seemed to live, being mostly on h'^rseback.
" Nicko " was what his father called Kenyon, — that
and old man or old boy. He wished most deeply that
he and his own father were on such good terms.
If Peter had heard the sort of things tnese two
talked about and confided to each other, his surprise
would hav elaborated into amazement. The elder
man took infinite pleasure in telling the one who was
so complete a c.iip off the same block the most minute
details of his love affairs during the time that he was
at Sandhurst for his army training, while he was in a
crack Cavalry regiment and while he knocked about
London and Paris and Vienna before and r.iter his
marriage. Also he revelled in relating his racing and
gambling experiences, describing the more shady epi-
sodes with witty phrases and a touch of satire that was
highly entertaining to the younger man. They both
agreed, with a paradoxical sort of honesty, deliberately
and inherently, that they were not straight and ac-
cepted each other as such, and the father used fre-
quently to speculate from which of his dull, responsible
and worthy ancestors he acquired the tendency. It
was certainly not from the late Lord Shropshire,
whose brilliant work as a Cabinet Minister in several
Governments and as one of the most valued advisers
of Queen Victoria had placed his name permanently
m the annals of his country. " We ge. it fro-i one of
the women of the family, I susnect, Nicko," ne had a
way of saying, after a more than usually excellent din-
ner '• A dear, pretty creature who lived a double life
wth dehghtful finesse -the great lady and the hu-
iTi3a woman by turns. What d'you think, old boy'
At a,,/ rate, you and I make no pretences and pon
my soul! I don't know which of us is the better ex-
ponent in the delicate and difficult art of sleight of
hand. I wish I were going to America with you I
fancy that we should make in double harness enough
'o enable us to retire from the game and live like little
gentlemen. As it is, you'll do very well, IVe no doubt
from what I hear, the country reeks with wealthy
young men waiting to be touched ' v an expert such as
you are. Do some good vork, . .d fellow, and when
you come back you shall lend me a portion of your
They were a strange couple, these two, capable out-
wardly charming and cut out for a very different way
of hfe but for the regrettable possession of a kink
which caused them to become harpies and turn the
weaknesses of unsuspicion of human nature to thei-
own advantage. Some psychologists might have gone
out of their -ay to find excuses for thes men and
endeavor to p.-ove that they would both have run
straight but for the fact that they were always pushed
for money. They would, however, have been wrong.
Just as some men are born orators, some with me-
chs-.ical and creative genius and some wi'.h the gift of
84 THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN
leadership, these two men were bom crooked, and un-
der no conditions, even the most favorable, could they
have played any game according to the rules.
The men of the party were all excellent sportsmen
and good fellows, and the women more than usually
delightful representatives of English society. As a
m^ner of fact, the men were all,— like Kenyon's fa-
ther, — living on their wits and just avoiding criminal
piosecution by the eighth of an inch. They called
themselves racing men, which, translated into cold
English, means that they were people of no ostensible
means of livelihood, who attended every race meetmg
and backed horses on credit, taking their winnings and
owing their losses until chased by crook solicitors.
They all bore names well known in English history.
They had all passed through the best schools and either
Oxford, Cambridge or Sandhurst. One or two of
them were still in the army. One had been requested
to resign from the navy, the King having no further
use for his services, and one was a Member of Parlia-
ment, having previously been hammered in the other
house,— that is to say the Stock Exchange. The
women of the party were either wives rl these men
or rot, as the case may be. At any rate they were
good to look at, amusing to talk to, and apparently
without a care in the world And if Lord Shrop-
shire, in welcoming Pecer to his famous house, had
said.'like the spider to the fly, " Come into my parlor
so that whatever you have about you may be sucked
dry by us," he would have been strictly truthful. Sev-
eral other such men as Peter had gone into that web
sound and whole, but they had come out again with
many things to regret and forget.
Who could say whether Peter would escape?
Peter had, as he duly reported to his mot! t and to
Betty, a corking time at Thrapstone-Wyn^ates.
Although an open-air man, an athlete, whose read-
mg had always been confined to those books only that
were necessary to his work,— dry law books for the
most part,— Peter was far from being insensible to the
mellow beauty of the house, and his imagination, un-
cultivated so far as any training in art or architecture
went, was subconsciously stirred by the knowledge
that its floors and stone walks and galleries were worn
by the feet of a long line of men and women Tvhose
loves and passions and hatreds had been worked out
there and whose ghostly forms in all the picturesque
trappings of several centuries haunted its echoing Hall
and looked down from its walls, from their places in
gold frames, upon its present occupants.
The atmosphere of Oxford, and especially of his
own college, had often spun his thoughts from rowing
and other strenuous, splendid, vital things, to the great
silent army of dead men whose shouts had rung
through the quad and whose rushing feet had gone
under the old gate. But this house, standing bravely
and with an indescribable sense of responsibility as
one of the few rear-guards of those great days of
•' i ■
THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN
chivalry and gallant fighting for heroic causes, moved
him differently. Here women had been and their per-
fume seemed to hang to the tapestries, and the influ-
ence of their hands that could no longer touch was
everywhere apparent. Often Peter drew up short, on
his way up the wide staircase, to listen for the click
of high heels, the tinkle of a spinet and the rattle of
dice. Everywhere he went he had a queer but not
unpleasant sense of never being alone, just as most
men have who walk along the cloisters of a cathedral
whose vast array of empty prie-dieus have felt the
knees of many generations and in whose lofty roof
there is collected the voices of an unnumberable choir.
Up early enough to find the dew still wet on flowers
and turf he enjoyed a swim every morning in tae
Italian bathing pool beneath the Cedar trees with Baby
Lennox. Then he either went for a gallop, before
breakfast, on one of Lord Shropshire's ponies — again
with Baby Lennox — or had a round of golf with her
on the workmanlike nine-hole course which had been
laid out in the park. She played a neat game, driving
straight, approaching deftly and putting like a book,—
frequently beating him.
The picture of this very pretty little person as she
stood on the edge of the bathing pool that first morn-
ing was, as she intended it to be, indescribably attrac-
tive. She came from her room in a white kimono
worked with the beautiful designs which only the
Chinese can achieve. Her golden hair was closely
covered by a tight-fitting bathing cap of geranium red,
most becoming to her white skin. " Mr. Peter! " she
caled out "I can't swim a bit, so you must look
after me I.ke — like a brother." And then, as though
to show how silly that word was, she flung off the
wrap and stood, all slim and sweet, in blue silk tights
cut lovv at the neck and high above her little round
white knees. Peter thought, with a kind of boyish
gasp, that she looked like a most alluring drawing on
the cover of a magazine. With an irresistible simplic-
ity and utter lack of self-consciousness she stood bal-
anced on the edge of the pool, with the sun embracing
her ma diving attitude, in no hurry to take her dip.
And when Peter, suddenly seized with the notion that
he m.ght Lc looking at her too intently, dived in she
gave a little cry of joy and dismay and jumped in after
him " You must hold me, you must hold me, or I
shall go under!" she cried, and he swam with her to
the steps. In reality she swam like a frog, but her
beautiful assumption of inability and her pluck in
jumping into deep water again and again to be taken
possession of by him, filled him with admiration at her
courage. With her tights wet and clinging and the
water glistening on her white flesh she assured herself
that she deserved admiration, having carefuUy calcu-
lated her effect. Practice makes perfect, and the very
young are always alike.
The first morning on which she appeared in riding
kit she again made a charming picture. She always
rode astride, but few women would have ventured to
wear such thin and such close-fitting white breeches
Her coat, cut like a man's, was of white drill Her
stock was white and her hat, with a wide flat brim was
\ ' I
88 THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN
of white straw, but her boots were as black and shiny
as the back of a crow. " Your hand, Mr. Peter," she
said, raising her Httle foot for the spring,— it was
" Mr. Peter " still, — " what a gorgeous morning for
a gallop." And for a moment she leaned warmly
against his shoulder. Yes, she was quite pleased with
the effect. Peter's face was flushed as they started
When they golfed she had a delightful way of mak-
ing her conversation from green to green into a sort
of serial. With her head hatless, her short Irish
homespun skirt displaying much blue stocking which
exactly matched her silk sweater and her large be-
fringed eyes, she made a fascinating opponent and
companion. " No wonder you loved Oxford and all
that it gave you. Quite a little tee, please. Thanks.
To a man with any imagination — " A settle, a swing,
a nice straight ball and silence while Peter beat his
ball pressing for all he was worth; the picking up of
the two bags and on side by side. " A man with any
imagination must feel the beauty and underlying mean-
ing of that inspiring atmosphere,— as of course you
did. You, I can see, are highly susceptible to every-
thing that is beautiful. You, I think, of all men, you
, who have managed to remain,— I'm sure I don't know
how ! — so unspoiled, will always remember and feel
the influence of your college. / cleek, I think, don't
you? No? A brassie? Just as you say." And so
she would continue chatting merrily away all round,
but alwavs keen on her game and doing her best to do
it credit, letting out nice little bits of flattery with so
naive an air and with such frankly appreciative glances
that poor old Peter's vanity, hitherto absolutely dor-
mant, began to bud, like new leaves in April.
It must be remembered that Peter was a rowing
man. Always, except when out with the guns, he was
with Baby Lennox. They were inseparable from the
first day of his visit. Even in the evening they hunted
m couples, because she was sick of Bridge, she said
and he gave out that he knew nothing at all about any
card games and had no desire to learn. After being
frequently pressed to cut in by Courthope, Pulsford
Fountain and the other men who could not bear to
see him with an unscathed cheque-book, and tempted
again and again by their well-groomed and delightfully
friendly wives to try a hand, Peter was left alone.
Ihey were annoyed and irritated but they found that
when Peter said " No " he didn't mean " Yes," like
so many of the other young men whose weakness
formed the greater part of these people's income; and
so they very quickly gave him up to Baby Lennox,
were obliged to be satisfied with his jovial piano-play-
mg and make up for lost time with the inevitable mem-
bers of the nouveau riches who lived near by and were
only too glad to pay for the privilege of dining at
Thrapstone-Wynyates in the odour of titles.
The nights being warm and windless, Peter sat out
on the moon-bathed terrace with Baby Lennox listen-
mg to her girlish prattle and thinking how particularly
charming she looked with the soft light on her golden
hair and white arms and dainty foot. Sometimes,
suddenly, her merry words would give place to sad
90 THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN
ones, and Peter's simple, honest heart would be touched
by her artistic and mythical glimpses of the unhappy
side of her life.
"Oh, Peter, Peter!" she said one night, uncon-
sciously showing almost a yard of leg in a black lace
stocking patterned with butterflies. " I wish, oh, how
I wish that I'd been born like you, under a lucky star !
I've always been in a smart and rather careless set and
I've never really had time to see visions and walk in
the garden of my soul." She spoke in capital letters.
" If I'd met you when I was a little young thing you
might have become my gardener to pluck the weeds
out of my paths, and train the flowers of my mind.
You might have planted seeds so sweet that in my best
and most devout hours their blooms would have filled
my thoughts with scent. Oh dear me, the might have
beens, — how sad they are ! But, in one thing at least
I can take joy,— I'm all the better for knowing you,
dear big Peter."
But these graver interludes never lasted long.
Mrs. Lennox was far too clever for that. She would
break the monotony of conversation by walking with
her ttle hand on the boy's strong arm, or by dancing
with him to the music of a gramophone placed in the
open window of the morning room. How close she
clung to him then and how sweet she was to hold !
And then, she would say, with a wonderful throb
in her voice. " Oh, Peter, Peter! Isn't life wonder-
ful isn't it just the most wonderful and thrilling
thing that is given to us ? Listen to the stars — there's
love in their so..g! Listen to the nightingale — love.
all love! Listen to the whisper of the breeze ! Can't
you hear it tell us to love and touch and taste all the
sweets that are given us to enjoy? Oh, Peter, Peter!
Listen, listen,— and live!"
In her picturesque and slangy way she announced
to Kenyon, as soon as three days after the commence-
ment of the house-party, that she " had got Peter well
hooked." It was not, however, an accurate statement.
It is true that Peter's vanity had been appealed to
Whose wouldn't have been? This attractive young
thmg was hostess. She was far and away prettier,
younger, more alluring and more complex than any
other woman in the party. And yet she had made a
favorite of Peter at once and showed a frank pleasure
in being with him at all possible times. He had hardly
spoken for longer than an hour with her before she had
said, in the middle of his description of the Henley
week, " I must call you Mr. Peter, I must. May I? "
She sent him little notes, too, charming, spontaneous
little notes, to say " Good-night," and how greatly she
had enjoyed the evening, or the swim, or the round of
golf, beginning "Dear Big Man" and ending,— at
first without a signature, and eventually with " Baby."
At the beginning they were brought in by the man, or
placed on the dressing-table against a bowl of flo-.-ers.
Then they were thrust under his door by her af.er he
had gone up to his room, or thrown through his open
window from the narrow balcony that ran round the
house. Her room was next to his. She had seen to
that. In a hundred unexpected and appealing ways
she had set out to prove to him that they were indeed.
92 THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN
as she had sajd they were, " very, very close friends."
Now, Peter had never been a woman's man. To him
women and their ways were new and wonderful. He
suspected nothing. Why should he? He accepted
Mrs. Randolph Lennox on her face value, which was
priceless, as so many other excellent and unsophisti-
cated young mea had done. He believed in her and
her stories and wa.o very sorry that she had been un-
happy. He believed that she was sincere and good
and clean and that she liked him and was his friend.
Kenyon, who watched all this, called Peter an easy
mark. He was. What else could he be in the expert
and cunning hands of such a woman ?
As for Mrs. Lennox, her performance, — it was
rather 'u the nature of a performance,— was all the
more brilliant and effective because Peter appealed to
her more than any man she had ever met. His height
and strength and squareness, his fearless honesty, his
unself -conscious pride and boyish love of life, she
liked them all. She liked his clean-cut healthy face
and thick hair and amazing laugh. But, above every-
thing, she liked him for being unfilled soil, virgin
earth. It was this that piqued her se'-iously and set
alight in her a desire which grew and grew, to test her
charms upon him, to taste him, to stir him into a first
great passion. And this was the real reason that she
gave him so much of her time and company. The
gratification of this desire was the thing for which she
was working, upon which she had set her mind Hers
was not a record of failures. Peter stood a very poor
chance of getting out whole.
Nicholas Kenyon has promised himself that, one
of these days, when abject poverty forces him to .ork
he w,ll wnte a whole book about Peter and Baby Len-
th?n'y" "" '' ''^"°"'" ^''"P'^t'"" of St An-
Not only did Kenyon watch this, to him, rather
dS?h°?"""L'""f."'' ^'"' ''''" '"''''''• b"t so also
did the members of his father's house-party who came
to regard Peter as a kind of freak. The/;irk„ew -
because they were all psychologists,- th'at Mrs. Len-
nox was badly smitten, as they put it, on this young
Amencan. They all knew,- because oue of the
women made it her business to spy,- that their tem-
porary hostess was going through all the tricks of her
trade to seduce this unconscious boy
The incident provided Lord Shropshire and his
friends with endless amusement, and bets were made
as to how long Peter would hold out. Every morn-
.ng somethmg new was reported to them by the lady
that Baby had taken Peter to see her cottage after
dmner and had had a little fainting fit in her bedroom
uhile showmg h.m the view from the window. An-
i"h'?K ^tf- '^''"''^ ^" ^"^^^ °" '*•« eighth hole
and had been obliged to ask to be carried back to the
house. There was, however, no evidence, not even of
a circumstantial nature, to prove that Baby had suc-
cee "d. It was presently agreed that either Peter was
a tool or an angel.
it- i ,
lit ■1.8, r
94 THE SIXS OF THE CHILDREN
There was one incident, however, which escaped un-
noticed, — one of which even Kenyon Itnew nothing.
It took place three nights before the party brolie up.
After a gorgeous day of hard exercise and splendid
fresh air, an hour at the piano after dinner and his
usual talk to Baby under the moon, Peter went up to
bed at eleven o'clock. He was very sleepy and meant
to be up earlier than ever in the morning. He didn't
say good-night to Kenyon or his satirical father.
They were, like the others, very seriously at work
making what money they could. There had been a
fairly large dinner-party drawn from the surrounding
houses, and there were eight bridge tables occupied
in the large drawing-room. He left Mrs. Lennox in
the hall looking more delicious than ever and went up
to his room to sn-.oke a final pipe and look over a:,
illustrated paper before turning in.
His room was large and square and wainscotted,
with dull grilled ceiling, and an oak floor so old that
here and thete it slanted badly. His bed was a four-
poster, deeply carved at the back with the Kenyon
arms, the motto underneath rather sarcastically being
" For God and Honour." In front of the fireplace,
with its sprawling iron dogs and oak setting, there was
a long, narrow sofa filled with cushions, and at its side
a small writing-table on which stood two tall silver
candlesticks. These gave the room its only light and
added to the Rembrandtesque atmosphere of it. It
was a room which reeked with history and episodes of
historical romance, love and sudden death. The win-
dow which led to the balcony were open and the warm
air of a wonderful night puffed in, causing the candle
flames to move with a gentle rhythmic dignity to and
Peter read and smoked for half an hour in his dress-
■ng-gown, while Quixotic moths flunj themselves pas-
sionately mto the candle-light one after another to die
for some unexplainable ideal. From the drawing-
room below a woman's throbbing voice drifted up
smgmg an Indian love song, and when it ceased the
who e night was set a quiver by a nightingale's out-
burst of appeal. These things, and the silver wonder
of the moon and stars, the touch of Mrs. Lennox's
soft hand on h.s lips and the feeling and almost psychic
undercurrent of strange emotion in that room in which
so much had taken place, all stirred and thrilled the
boy and sent his blood racing in his veins
He stayed up longer than he intended, listening and
wondering and -.shing. for the first time in his life,
that he had read poetry, so that he could fit some im-
mortal lines to his mood and his surroundings. It was
this, to him. curious thought which set him laughine
and broke some of the spell. " Gee ! " he said to him-
self, can you see me spouting Shakespeare or mouth-
ing Byron?" He shied his dressing-gown into the
i' a. put both flames out with one huge blow and
leaped into bed.
Almost instantly he heard his name urgently called
He sat up. Was he dreaming? Who should call at
that time of night ? Could it be Baby ? He heard the
call again It was nearer. A little shadow fell sud-
denly upon the floor of his room. And then, in the
THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN
window, with the shaft of moonlight all about her,
stood Mrs. Lennox.
Peter caught his breath and clambered out of his
bed. "What is it?" he asked. •' VVhrt's the mat-
The woman ran in with a glad cry. " Oh, Peter !
I thought you had gone out of your room," she whis-
pered, " and I didn't know what to do. I saw a hide-
ous figure walk through my wall just after I had put
out my light, and when it came towards me with long,
bony fingers, I rushed out and came to you. Oh, hold
me, Peter, hold me I I'm terrified and as cold as a
She slipped into his arms, all young and sweet and
incoherent, trembling like a little bird in a thunder-
storm. It was a most calculated piece of perfect act-
Peter's heart seemed to jump into his mouth. The
flowing hair of the little head that lay on his chest was
full of the most intoxicating scent.
" I'll — I'll go and see what it is," he said abruptly.
" No, no ! Don't go. I can't let you go, Peter.
Stay with me ! "
" But, if there's a man in your room "
" It wasn't a man. It was the ghost that belongs to
the family. It always comes before some dreadful
accident. Oh, darling, stay with me! Take care of
me ! I'm terrified ! "
She clung to him in a very ecstasy of fright and
the closeness and warmth of her body sent Peter's
brain whirling. He tried to speak, to think of some-
thmg to say, but all h.s thoughts were in the swirl of
a m.ll.stream and he held her tighter and put his face
agamst her hair, while his heart pumped and every
preconce.ved idea, eve.^ hard-fought-for ideal went
'; I lov'e you. I love yo„ f'eter. My Peter! " she
.•h,spered. "Who but yoa should shelter me and
hold me and Iceep me in your arms! Keep me with
you always, night and day. Look into my eyes and
see how much you mean to me, my man."
She raised her head and stood on tiptoe. The ieal
ous moon had laid its light upon her face and her eyes
were shmmg and her lips were parted, and the slight
silk covermg had fallen from her shoulder The
whiteness of it dazzled.
h.r ^' 7 ^'^■" '^'^ ^^"''' ''"' ^' he bent to kiss
her mouth, momentarily drunk with the touch and
scent of her, someone shouted his name and thumped
on h,s door, and Mrs. Lennox tore herself away and
ran through the wmdow like a moon-woman
The door was flung open. Fountain came in, his
vcce a httle th.ck. " I say, Guthrie, are you geiting
up early m the morning? 'Cause, if so, I'll take you
on for nme holes before breakfast. What d'yer say ?
(joui to get healthy, d'yer see? What?"
Peter found his voice. " All right ! " he said.
Will you? Good man. Give me a call at six
will you? We'll bathe in the pool before coming in.'
So long then." And out he went again, lurching a
httle and banging the door behind him.
For several queer minutes Peter stood swaying, with
THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN
his breath nearly gone as though he had been rowing,
and one big hand on his throbbing head. And as he
stood there the posts of the bed seemed to turn into
trees and its cover into soft grass all alive with the
yellow heads of " bread and cheese," and among them
sat Betty, with her eyes full of love, confidence and
implicit faith, — Betty, for whom he had sav< d him-
And then he started walking about the room. Up
and down he went — ".p and down — cursing himself
and his weakness which had nearly smashed his dream
and put his loyalty into the dust.
And when, — she also had cursed, — Mrs. Lennox
stol« back, as sweet and alluring as ever, and even
more determined, she found that Peter had re-lit his
candles, got into his dressing-gown again and was sit-
ting at the table writing.
" Peter 1 Peter ! " she called.
But he didn't hear.
" Peter ! '* she whispered, and went nearer and
nearer until her body rested against his shoulder.
" Oh, I beg your pardon," he said, rising. " Is it
all right now? Tliat's fine. It's just a touch cold.
Don't you think you'd bi iter be in bed ? "
Baby Lennox had seen the beginning of the letter,
• " My own Betty." She nodded, drew back her upper
lip in a queer smile and turned and went. She was
clever enough to know that she had lost.
And then Peter bent again over his letter, and in
writing to the little girl whom he adored with all his
heart, he was safe.
guess ,t u do us good to walk "
you. I worbe?;-„ure '?""' *° "^^^ ^'■"^ -'*
onnf/aSnt"''"" ^i^e's cheap. Don't hurry
Belle went over to the dressing-table SHp J,,^ ,
recently powdered h^r „r. t "^^ °"'y
be ".etuL t"cM L„T !, '"*''" "'' l^''"!"
S£.r ,^,r,"Tf = -"' *-' *»'^'
comer o, GTa^.X^"" 't ?'" '"""P » *=
There w.s a gru„ra„r.he ™, T"' '" ™""'-
102 THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN
Into the large lofty room — a cross between a bam
and an attic — a hard north light was falling with
cruf! accuracy. It showed up stacks of unframed
canvasses with their faces turned to the dark wall and
the imperfections of several massive pieces of oak, the
worn appearance of the stained floor, the age of the
Persian rugs and of a florid woman who sat with
studied grace and an anxious expression of pleasant
thought on the dais, with one indecently beringed hand
resting with strained nonchalance on the arm of her
chair and the other about an ineffably bored Pekingese.
Ranken Townsend, the successful portrait painter,
had backed away from his almost life-size canvas,
and with his fine untidy head on one side and irrita-
tion in his red-grey beixd was glaring at it with savage
The lady on the dais had crow's-feet round her
made-up eyes, and a chin that could not be made any-
thing but double however high she held it. Also —
as the north light seemed to take a hideous delight in
proving — her figure was irreclaimably dumpy and
plump. The lady on the canvas, however, — such is
Art that runs an expensive studio, good wines and
well-preserved Coronas, — was slight and lovely and
patrician, and should she stand up, at least six feet
tall. No wonder Townsend grunted and glared at the
commercial fraud in front of him, at which, in his
good, idealistic, hungry Paris days he would have slung
wet brushes and the honest curses of the Place Pigalle.
He was selling his gift once more for five thousand
dollars. His wife dressed at Bendels.
Anger and irritation went out of the painter's eyes
when he saw the sweet face that peeked in. " Hello,
sweetheart!" he sang out. "Come in and bring a
touch of sun. Mrs. Vandervelde, I'd like you to meet
my little girl."
Without turning her head or breaking a pose that
she considered to have become, after many serious at-
tempts, extremely effective, the much-paragraphed
lady, whose lizard-covered mansion in Fifth Avenue
was always one of the ob' cts touched upon by the
megaphone men in rubber-neck wagons, murmured a
few words. " How d'you do, child.' How well you
Betty smothered a laugh. Mrs. Vandervelde had
acquired the habit of looking through her ears. " I'm
going home with Belle, father, and I shall stay to din-
ner. But I'll be back before ten."
"Will you? All right." He tilted up her face and
kissed it. " I'm dining at the National Arts Club to-
night, and I guess I shall be late." He pointed his
brush at the canvas and made the grimace of a man
who's obliged to swallow a big dose of evil-sme''-ng
physic. So Betty, who understood and was s .y,
put his hand to her lips, bowed to the indifferent lady
and slipped away. The room was perceptibly colder
when she left. The picture was ah-eady four thousand
two hundred dollars toward completion, and Betty was
just as much relieved as her father, who returned an-
grily to work to paint in the diamonds. He was sick
of that smile.
While waiting for the elevator, Belle gave a rather
104 THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN
self-conscious laugh and lifted her tight skirt quickly.
" Seen the latest, Betty?" She showed a tiny square
watch edged with diamonds worn as a garter. " Cun-
ning, isn't it? "
" Why, I should just think it was ! Where did you
buy it? "
" Buy it? My dear, can you see me paying
three hundred dollars for something that doesn't
show? Harry Spearman gave it to me last night,
and put it on in his car on the way to the Pierrot
"Put it on?"
Belle threw back her beautiful head and burst out
laughing. " You said that just like the Quaker girl
in the play at the Hudson. Why shouldn't he put it
on? It amused him and didn't hurt me. He's a
sculptor, and like the bus-conductor, ' legs is no treat
to him,' anyway."
They entered the elevator, dropped nine floors to
the wide foyer of the palatial apartment house, and
went out into the street. It was a typical New York
October afternoon — the sky blue and clear, the sun
warm and the air alive with that pinch of ozone of
which no other city in the world can boast. The girls
instinctively made their way towards Fifth AvenMe,
warily dodging the amazing traffic, the struggling,
wagons and plunging horses going in and out of build-
ings in course of ear-splitting construction, and coal-
chutes, in the middle of the sidewalks.
" But you were not at the opening of the Pierrot
Club last night," said Betty. " I heard you tell Mrs.
Guthrie that you were dining with the Delanos and
going to their theatre party."
"I know. But Harry Spearman sent round a note
in the afternoon asi^ing me to have dinner with him
at Delmonico': and go en to the Club to dance. I had
such a severe headache that I rang up Mrs. Delano
and reluctantly begged to be excused. To quote
Nicholas, theatre parties with elderly people bore me
stiff. As it was, I had a perfectly corking time till
one o'clock and danced every dance."
" Did you tell Mrs. Guthrie ? "
"For Hei.kcn's sake, Betty, what do you take me
for ? Mother isn't my school-teacher and I don't have
to ask her for permission to live. I have my latch-
key and dear little mother is perfectly happy. As she
never knows what I do she never has to worry about
me; and, as she always says, I can only be young once."
A curious little smile played round her very red lips.
"It's true that Harry Spearman is rather unmanage-
able when he gets one alone in a car after several hours
of champagne and ragtime, but — oh, well, I guess I
can take care of myself. Do you know, I don't think
the Pierrot Club's going to be as good this winter.
It s a year old, you see. Everybody's going to the new
room at the Plaza — that is, everybody back from the
country. It's rather a pity, I think. I like the Club,
but the motto of New York is ' Follow the Crowd '
and so the Plaza's for me."
Betty's admiration for her school-fellow and closest
friend was invincible and her loyalty very true. It
made her therefore a little uneasy to notice about her
io6 THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN
a. growing artificiality which was neither attractive nor
characteristic. She knew better than anyone that
Belle was a remarkable girl. She had a kind heart.
She possessed that rarest of gifts, a sense of gratitude,
and if her talent for writing had been properly de-
veloped she might eventually have made her mark.
She had a quick perception — sympathy and imagina-
tion not often found in so young a girl — an uncanny
ear for the right word — and if she chose to exercise
it, quite an unusual power of concentration. It seemed
to Betty to be such a pity that, just at the moment when
Belle left school with her mind filled with ideals and
the ambition to make something of herself and do
things, the Doctor found himself a rich man. The in-
centive to work which the constant need for economy
had awakened in her wen. out like a snuffed candle.
From having before been in the habit of saying, with
eager enthusiasm, " I'm going to do such and such a
thing, whatever the odds," she immediately began to
say: " Oh, my dear, what's the use ? " Everything
for which she had intended to work became now hers
for the asking. Her father gave her a free hand in
the matter of entertaining her young friends. She
could order what books she wished to read from Bren-
tano's, and she had a gjnerous allowance on which to
dress. Like a chameleon she quickly changed the
rather dull colors of her fortnef surroundings for
those bright ones which the sudden accession to wealth
made it easy to acquire. Her outlook was no longer
that of the daughter of an overworked general prac-
titioner whose income had to be carefully managed in
THE CITY ,^
ployed in the development of her talent; and it 'vas
rnucn to say for himse f, qu cklv borpH h»r u
that ^e should throw her J^ ^ ^rS
tne tact that they did not intend to give anything for
nothing, exercised her ingenuity and native w to keep
tered into a series of artificial flirtations with men
he r^ resTh; "T Tl"^""^ '^'^ ''^ into'episodes.
tie M^r 1 ''■'''''' ^'""•'^ ^^'^ thrown dear lit
^e Mrs^ Guthne into a panic, and her coolness pr
"■j,nit>. liven upon her return from
io8 THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN
England with her heart full of Nicholas Kenyon, and
with a desire to tee him again that kept her awake
at night, she frittered away her superfluous energy
with this Harry Spearman, whom no woman with any
respect for her daughter would willingly allow within
a mile of her, even if properly chaperoned.
Betty, being one of those girls wiio had never been
suspected of any talent, but who nevertheless had it
in her to perform a far more womanly and beautiful
thing than to write books or plays — to be in fact a
good wife to the man she loved and a good mother to
his children — looked at Belle's way of living with
growing anxiety. She was not a prude or a prig.
She had not been allowed out in the world with eyes
all curious to see the truth of things through a veil of
false modesty. Her father, a wise and humane man,
had seen to that. She delighted in enjoyment, went
to the theatre whenever she had the opportunity and
danced herself out of shoes. But, not being ambitious
to shine, she was content to apply her energy to the
ordinary work that came to her to do, — the practical,
everyday, undramatic, domestic things that cropped
up hourly in the strange house where the father was
an artist and the mother suffered from individualism
and was a leader of new movements. Leaving school
to find a home in a constant state of chaos, her father
rarely out of his studio, her mother always in the
throes of committee meetings and speech-making, —
she knuckled down to set it in order, to clear out
an extravagant cook with an appetite for hysterics,
and a sloppy Irish waitress whose hairpins fell every-
where and whose loose hand dropped things of value
almost before it touched them. This done she found
others and appointed herself housekeeper, and the du-
ties of this position kept her both busy and happy -
the one bemg hyphenated to the other. But even if
her father had been, like Dr. Guthrie, a rich man in-
stead of one who lived up to every penny that he
earned and generally several thousand dollars beyond
she had nothing in her character that, however little
she was occupied, would have allowed her to look at
life from the modern standpoint of Belle and her other
friends. She was — and rejoiced in the fact — old-
fashioned. Most of her ideas were what is now scofl-
mgly called "early Victorian," because they were not
loose and careless, and the many things that Belle and
others found " fearfully amusing" were, to her, im-
possible. She didn't, for instance, leave her petticoat
in the cloak-room when she went to dances, so that
her partners might find her better fun. She didn't
go to tea alone with mere acquaintances in bachelor
apartments, or for taxi rides with her partner between
dances. She never made herself cheap, and went out
of her way to avoid men whose eyes ran calculatingly
over her figure. These things and many others
merely appealed to her as the perquisite of those girls
who did not place a very high value upon self-respect
The Guthries lived at 55 East Fifty-second Street.
It was the house which the man whom Dr Guthrie
called his benefactor had built for himself and left to
the doctor whom he was proud to endow The
architect who had been employed had been given a
no THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN
free hand. He had not been reouired to mix his styles
or perform extraordinary architec.ural gymnastics of
any kind. The result of his efforts was good. It
was a house such as one sees in one of the numerous
old London squares within sound of the mellow clock
of St. James's Palace. Addison might have lived in
it, or Walpole or Tepys. Its face was scrupulously
plain and its doorway was modelled on those of the
Adams period. Standing between two very florid
examples of modern architecture it made one think
of the portrait of a charming early Victorian gentle-
woman between the photographs of two present-day
chorus ladies in hoopskirts and a cloud of chiffon.
The rooms were large and lofty and were all furnished
with great simplicity and taste. There was nothing
in them except old furniture which had been collected
in England by its late owner, piece by piece, and its
oak chests, armoires and secretaries, china closets,
comer pieces and Chippendale chairs were very good
to look at and live with. So also were the pictures,
— Cattermoles, Bartalozzi engravings, colored prints
and a half-dozen priceless oil paintings by old masters,
— which made the small, cunning, unscrupulous, eager
mouths of the numerous art collectors of New York
water with desire. The library, too, out of which led
the Doctor's laboratory, was almost unique, and con-
tained first editions and specimens of rare and beau-
tiful book-binding which filled the Doctor's heart with
constant pleasure and delight. It was nearly a year
before the man who had struggled so hard to lift
himself out of his father's small farm could believe
THE CITY ,„
ttl'/h T'' ;!'"'•? '" •"' ^'^ ^J'*" he passed
through these beautiful rooms, and often he was
dr'amtg" ""'' '"""" '° "'•^^ ^"^'^ "^''^ "e was n"
would have g,ven ,ts late owner many shudders to
room the wmdows of which looked out upon that
row of small red. bandbox-like houses opposite which
had managed to remain standing in spite of the
rapacous hands of reconstruction companies which
Z7r'- '°. PP^ "' **''" destroying old landmarks
and tearmg down old buildings. Into this room Mrs.
Q^thne had placed all the furniture of her first sitting-
room,- cheap late Victorian stuff of which she had
tSr. i f/"";:^ ^'* *•"= y°""& <^°<^tor. From,
these thmgs Mrs. Guthrie could not be parted Thev
were all redolent with good and tender memories and
tTf',^f ^ T^'u ^'' "'°'' ^"'"^''•'^ «"^ ""^^ beau-
gether '' "''^ ""^ P'""' P"' *°-
Curiously enough -or perhaps not curiously at all
-this was Peter's favorite room, too, and he never
entered ,t without renewing is vows to climb to the
top of his own tree, as his father had done. Belle
Graham and Ethel all laughed at the little mother for
chnging to this "rubbish," as they called it, which
was so out of keeping with the rest of the house,
iiut Peter sympathized with her and never failed while
sittmg there in the evening, in close and intimate con-
112 THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN
versation with the dear little woman who meant so
much to him, to get from it a new desire to emulate
his father and make his own way in the same brave
When Belle and Betty arrived at East Fifty-second
Street — a little tired after their walk — they found
Graham in the hall. "Oh, hello!" said he. "Been
" No," answered Belle, " nothing tempted us.
We've walked all the way home from Gramercy Park,
— some walk! Everything I've got on is sticking
to me. Aren't you home early, Graham ? "
Graham nodded. "Nothing doing," he said.
" Besides, I'm dining early." He turned to Belle with
a rather curious smile. " I thought you were to be
with the Delanos last night."
Belle tilted her chin. " I was. I dined there, went
to the Winter Garden and then danced at Bus-
"I caught sight of you in Spearman's car some-
where about one o'clock in the morning. Did he drive
you home? "
" I guess he did, dear boy," said Belle, blandly, " and
by the way, we saw you, going in to supper somewhere
with a girl with a Vogue face and an open-air back I "
Graham laughed. "That's diflferent," he said.
" Spearman isn't the sort of man I care to see my sis-
ter going about with alone. I advise you to be a little
" Thank you, Graham darling," said Belle, quite un-
moved, " but I'm old enough to choose my own friends
THE CITY „_j
without your butting in. Just for fun. would you tell
'■ TH .-'"ll-^""" "'""* "'^ --d fastidious? ••
braham a good sport >•' "'
ytgo7 h:sT.T "r^ ''^PPy smi.e,rd°Ethe
d .on of a girl of fifteen who had not'gone bLuZ
school on account of anemia
tace Belle knew she had heard from Peter " Anv
news?" she asked eagerly. "^
rnn'w"' '^^'""5'- '''^ ^^^V best of news. A Mar-
con, from my boy," said Mrs. Guthrie.
What does he say?"
"Oh, what does he say?" asked Betty But the
quest,on was asked mentally, because ' ttlf m's
Puttrngon her glasses with great deliberation Mrs
Guthne p.cked up a book, and with a smile of pride
and exatement hunted through its pages and ev n
114 THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN
tually produced the cable form, which she had used
as a marker.
"Do hurry, mother, dear' Tied Belle. News
from Peter meant news from Nicholas.
" Now please don't fluster me, Belle. Of course
I would unfold it the wrong side up, wouldn't I?
Well, this is what he says: ' Expect to dock day after
to-morrow, dearest Mum. All my love.' "
" Is that all he says ? Is there nothing about his —
his friend? "
Ethel gave a quiet chuckle, of which Belle coldly
took no notice.
" There are a few more words," replied Mrs.
Guthrie, " and I expect they were very exp^. -
" Oh, mother, darling; do go on I "
" Let me see, now. Oh, yes. ' And to Betty.' "
"Oh, thank you," said Betty. "Oh, Peter, my
Peter! " she cried in her heart.
This time Ethel laughed. But no one noticed it.
It was rather disappointing.
" At last I shall see Nicholas again," thought Belle,
And the little mother folded up the cable very care-
fully and slipped it back into the book. Peter had
sent it to her, — to her.
And then Belle turned her attention to her little
sister, who not only looked most interesting, but knew
that she did. " I think you condescended to be
amused. Grandmamma," she said, in the most good-
natured spirit of chaff. Like everybody else in the
family she was really rather proud of ^V. ,.;>■ fin-
ished production of an ultra-modern .. J l-3sl-,ior.abl-.
" I seem to have missed a lot of fun by ia,t -o-
mg to Europe," replied Ethel. " It would have been
very entertaining to watch you and Betty fall in
" I guess so," said 1 lie. " The only thing is that
you would have been very much odd man out They
draw the line at little school-girls at Oxford "
'Now don't begin to quarrel, girls." said Mrs.
Guthne. Im very sorry Ethel wasn't with us.
The tnp would have widened her view and given her
much to think about. But never mind. She shall go
with us next time."
Ethel stifled a yawn. " Thank you, mamma, dear.
But when I go to England I may elect to stay there.
thmk Its very probable that I shall marry an Eng-
lishman and settle down to country life, doing London
m the season."
Belle's laugh rang out. "That's the sort of thing
we have to put up with, Betty," she said. "You're
going to marry a Duke, aren't you, Baby, and be a
Udy ,n Waiting at Court, with a full-page photo-
graph every week in the Tatler? When Peter comes
home hell find you a constant source of joy My
descriptions of the way in which you've come on while
he s been away always made him laugh."
Ethel rose languidly from the sofa, at the side of
Which a little nourishment had been served. Mrs
buthne, who had been busily at work knitting a scarf
ii6 THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN
for Graham — a thing that he would certainly never
wear — went quickly to give her a hand. " Are you
going to your room now, darling ? " she asked.
Ethel caught Belle's rather sceptical eye and, with
exquisite coolness, entirely ignored its suggestion that
she was shamming. " Yes, mamma, dear. I shall
go to bed almost at once. There's nothing like sleep
for anaemia. Of course I shall have to read for a
little while, because insomnia goes with my complaint,
but I shall fall off as soon as I can. Please don't
come in to-night, in case you disturb me. I'll tell
Ellen to put my hot milk in a thermos."
Belle burst into another laugh. "You beat the
band," she said. "Any one would think that your
school was for the daughters of royalty. I laiow
exactly what Nicholas Kenyon will call you."
Ethel turned towards her sister with raised eye-
brows. With her rather retrousse nose, fine, wide-
apart eyes and soft round chin she looked very pretty
and amazingly self-composed. Her poise was that of
a woman who had been a leader of society for years.
" Yes ? And what will that be ? "
" The queen of the Flappers," said Belle.
Ethel picked up her book, carefully placing the
marker. "Oxford slang leaves me cold," she said,
" I certainly hope that he'll call her nothing of the
sort," said Mrs. Guthrie. " ' Flapper.' What a ter-
rible word ! What does it mean ? "
" It means girls under seventeen who have discov-
ered all the secrets of life, the value of a pair of pretty
THE CITY j^^
thin';: z\iT\'r,'v'' ^^^^^^-^^ ^'- - ^o
no other words '''"• ^^' ^°"'d And
aro^nVlL^sSTrfrf f ^™' "'^' ^^^^* ^«-*-".
she was extremelv ° 7 'T'''' '''''''' ">' ^hom
"Never ^Z^'^'j, '% ^J-ed.
-an a„v,hi„g. It's oSy her f"" ^^"^''-"'t
■•-prove fn^t" ' ""'^ ""^^ ^^'' »"' ^''e'll
a god '"'^"^esses who bow to wealth as before
I don't think 1 will " said Ptu^i « 4-,
his laboratory may X'e Z^ i ^^' ^'S'^* "^
ii8 THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN
Your complexion is beginning to show the effects of
late hours already."
" Oh, you funny little thing," said Belle. " You
give me a pain. Trot off to bed ; and instead of read-
ing Wells, Ibsen and George Bernard Shaw, try a
course of Louisa Alcott and a dose of Swiss Family
Robins in. That'll do you much more good and make
you a little more human."
But even this plain sisterly speaking had no ap-
parent effect. Ethel gave Betty, who had been watch-
ing and listening to the little bout with the surprise
of an only child, a small peck on the cheek. " Good
night, dear Betty," she said. " I'm glad that you're
going to be my sister-in-law. Unless Peter has
changed very much since he's been away he'll make a
And then, with quiet grace, she left the room. No
one, not even Belle, whose high spirits and love of
life had led her into many perfectly harmless adven-
turer when she was the same age, suspected that Ethel
was up to anything. They were wrong. The self-
constituted invalid had invented anaemia for two very
good reasons. First, because she was not going to
be deprived of welcoming her big brother when he
returned home for good, school or no school, and
second because she had struck up a surreptitious ac-
quaintance with the good-looking boy next door. At
present it had gone no further than the daily exchange
of letters and telephone calls. The adventure was in
the course, however, of speedy development. The
boy was going to pay her a visit that evening, by way
THE CITY „9
itXr'' ''° """'*'■ '^*^' '^'•^"'^ "^"' ^° ^
With an unwonted burst of extravagance Betty took
a tax. home as soon after dinner as she could get away.
she asked the moon and all the stars in the clear sky
as her rackety cab bowled swiftly downtown
She let herself in and the first thing that caught her
eyes was the welcome sight of a thick envelope ad-
dressed m Peter's big round, honest, unaffected hand.
t^JZ\XX'"''' '"' ^''^'''' ''-'"'
Within five minutes she was sitting on her bed, in
he sec usion of her own room, and what Peter had
to say for himself was this :
" Carlton Hotel, London,
" My dearest Betty : " ^^P'^mber 28, 1913.
fZ ^ff """^ ^ T' ™'^''*y Slad to find a letter from you
h s afternoon when I got in, so glad that I dashed out of
his Hotel, went across the street to the White Star offices
and asked them to exchange r..y bookings to a boat S'ng
a week earher, because I just can't stand being awaf
from you any longer. I don't know what Nick will say
and don't much care. He's at Newmarket stay W with a
say what I ve done, and as he's versr keen to see New York
nd ,s on^ killing time, I don't think he'U kick up a row
would have sailed on the Olympic, which left'the Ty
after I said good-bye to Thrapstone-Wytiyates if I hadn't
promised father to go up to Scotland'Tnd see he p,te
where h,s ancestors lived. I couldn't back out of that
120 THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN
especially as goodness only knows when I shall come to
Europe again, — perhaps not until I bring you over on a
honeymoon, my baby, and we go back to Oxford together
to see how the fairy ring is getting on. We must do that
some day. You don't know how I love that little open
space where the trees haven't grown so that the moon
may spill itself in a big patch for all our friends to dance
in on fine nights. I've read your letter a dozen times and
know it by heart, li':e all the others you've written to me.
You write the most wonderful letters, darling. I wish
I knew how to send you something worth reading, though
I'm quite sure you don't mind my clumsy way of putting
things down, because you know how much I love you
and because everything I say comes straight out of my
" My last letter was written in Scotland, Cupar Fife.
I shall always remember that quiet little place where the
red-headed Guthries, — they must have been red-headed
from eating so much porridge, — tilled the earth and
brought up sheep in the way they should go. The vil-
lage seems as much cut off from the rest of the world
as though it were surrounded by sea, and every small
thing that happens excites it. The man who kept the Inn
that I stayed in (feeling frightfully lonely, though really
very much interested) had words with his good woman
one night and the rights and wrongs of the perfectly
private matter have since divided all the inhabitants.
Best friends don't speak and the minister is going to
preach about the affair next Sunday. I saw the house
the old Guthries lived in and was taken all over it by a
kind old soul to whom father gave more money than she
thought existed when he was there. Gee! but my great-
grandfather must have had precious little ambition to live
his whole life in a little hole like that. In most of the
THE CITY J2I
u°D°^'l!t' l^^T^^r '■"'" ''^°^^= ='"'^ "^^ded climbing
with h ''"".'^; /'^"- McAlister, who lives there now
w.th her marned daughter and her seven children, sleeps
m one of these fug-holes in the kitchen. Think of h
And she said that the floor swarms with beetles - she can
hear hem crackling about in the night. All the same, by
Jove! this pnm.tive living makes men. I can see from
whom father got his grit and determination
I was glad to find myself in London. I've only been
here for a night or two at various times and it's a wilder-
tT.' ITTk-^ ^T ""^'"^ ^^''y '™^ ^ g° °"' ^"d have
Bobbfes T^" °" ,'° r\ '='*• ^°PP'"S ^•'^P^' these
Bobbie . They mostly look like gentlemen and are aw-
fully glad to get a laugh. To hear them talk about the
Aymarket^ Piccadilly Surcuss, Warfloo Plaice and West!
minister Habbey first of all puzzles one and then fills
one with joy. As to the Abbey,- oh. Gee ! but isn't it
away beyond words! I spent a whole day wander „g
about among the graves of its mighty dead, and finally
when I got to the end of the cloister and came upon that
small, square, open space where the grass grows so green
and sparrows play about, I was glad there was nobody to
Canons who was taking in the milk for afternoon tea
liZVn *' T ^"""' "'"^^^ ^"^^g 'he shrines
of men who have done things and moved things on in
which I should like to stand (not looking a bit like my-
self in stone) when I have done my job, and if 1 were
an Englishman I should work for it. As it is. I shall
work for you and all you mean to me. my baby, and
that s even a higher privilege.
thZh^r ? " **^*''' '"'' "ight,_Wyndham's. I
ttought the pay was corking, but the leading actor -an
ugly good-Iooking fellow- wasn't trying a yard, and let
122 THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN
it away down every time he was on. Also he spent his
time making jokes under his breath to the other people to
dry them up. No wonder the theatres are in a bad way
in London. There's no snap and gfinger about the shows
except the ones of the variety theatres, where they really
do take off their coats for business. It's fine to hear rag-
times at these places, although they're as stale on our side
as if they had been played away back before the great
wind. By the way, I'm a bit anxious about Graham.
His letters have a queer undercurrent in them.
" I'm going to the National Gallery, the British Mu-
seum and South Kensington to-morrow, and in the even-
ing I'm dining at the Trocadero with eight men who
were up at St. John's with me. They're all working in
London and hate it, aft.-' Oxford. It seems odd to me
not to be there myself and I miss it mighty badly some-
times. All the same it's great to feel that one's a man at
last, with real work to do and that apartment waiting for
us to win. This is the last mail that I can catch before
sailing and so I just have to tell you once again, in case
you forget it, that I adore you and that if I don't see you
on the landing in little old New York among the crowd
I shall sink away like an India-rubber balloon with a pin
in it. So long, my dearest girl. All, all my love, now
and forever. ^ " Peter."
" P. S. Do you think your father can be brought to
like me somehow or other?
" Kiss this exact spot."
A GOOD sport! Oil, yes, Graham answered admir-
ably to that description, — according to its present-day.
use. Graham like Belle, was suffering from the fact
that everything was too easy. His father's so-called
^ene actor had taken all the sting of life for that boy
Fundamentally he had inherited a considerable amount
of his father's grit. He needed the impetus of strug-
gle to use up that sense of adventure ^vhlch was deep-
rooted in his nature. He was a throw-back. He had
all the stuff in him that was in his ancestors,- those
early pioneers who were momentarily up against the
grim facts of life. He was not cut out for civiliza-
tion. He needed action, the physical strain and stress
of hunting for his food among primeval surroundings
and the constant exercise of his strength in dangerous
positions. He would have made a fine sailor, a reck-
less soldier or an excellent flying man. He was as
much out of his element in Wall Street as a sporting
dog which is doomed to pass away its life sitting be-
s'de a chauffeur in an elaborate motor-car. The
daring recklessness which would have been an asset
to him as a hunter of big game or a man >vho attached
himself to dangerous expeditions, found vent, in the
heart of civilization, in gambling and running wild.
U was a pity to see such a lad so utterly misplaced and
going to the devil with an alacrity that alarmed even
some of his very loose friends. If his father had con-
tinued to be a hard-working doctor whose income was
barely large enough to cover his yearly expenses,
braham could have used up his superabundant ener-
gies in climbing, rung by rung, any ladder at the
bottom of which he had been placed. As it was, he
found himself, through his father's sudden accession
T24 THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN
to wealth, beginning where most men leave off, with
nothing to fight for — nothing to put his teeth into
— nothing for which to take off his coat. It was
all ' rong. He made money and lost it with equal
east — although he lost more than he won. He was
surrounded with luxuries when he should have been
faced daily with the splendid difficulties which go lo
form character and mental strength. Somehow or
other his innate desire for adventure had to be used
up. With no one to exercise any discipline over him,
with no steady hand to guide him and control, he flung
himself headlong into the vortex of the night life of
the great city and was an easy prey for its rastaquores.
At the age of twenty- four he thready knew what it
was to be haunted by money-lenuers. Already he was
up to the innumerable dodges of the men who borrow
from Peter to pay Paul. He was a well-known figure
in gambling clubs and the houses in the red-light dis-
trict, and he numbered among his friends men and
women who made a specialty of dealing with boys of
his type and who laid their nets with consummate
knowledge of humanity and with the most dastardly
callousness. He was indeed, in the usual inaccurate
conception of the word, a good " sport," and stood
every chance of paying for the privilege with hi.s
health, his self-respect and the whole of his future
To have seen the nervous way in which he dressed
for dinner the next evening, throwing tie after tie
away with irritable cursing, would have convinced the
most casual observer of the fact that he stood in need
of a .trong hand. His very appearance,- the dark
lines round h.s eyes, the unsteadiness of his hand-
denrned plainly enough the sort of life that he vvas
leading but the short-sighted eyes of the Doctor in
wnose house he lived missed all this, and there vvas
no one except the little mother to cry " halt " to this
poor lad and. in her experience, of what avail was
He drove -after having dined with three other
Wal Mreet men at Sherry's -to an apartment house
on West Fortieth Street. little imagining that fate had
determmed to put him to the test. Kenyon had rec-
ommended him to try it. He had heard of it from
Lapt-m Fountain's brother, who had called it " very
hot stuff" in one of h^s letters,- the headquarters
of a so-called "Bohemian" set in which Art and
gambhng were combined. It was run by a woman
whose name was Russian, whose instincts were cos-
mopolitan, and who had been shifted out of most of
the great European cities by the police. " The Pa-
powsky,'' as she was called, spoke several languages
equally fluently. She was something of a judge of
art. She had an uncanny way of being able to pre-
dict success or failure to new plays. She knew
musicians when she saw them and only had to smell a
book to know whether it had excellence or not Her
short thm body and yellow skin, her black hair cut
in a fringe over her eyes and short all round like that
ot a Shakesperian page, her long, dark, Oriental eyes
and her long artistic hands were in themselves far
from attractive. It was her wit and sa-casm how-
^ Hi^.j •
126 THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN
ever and the brilliant way in which she summed up
people and things which made her the leader of those
odd people — to be found in every great city — who
delight in being unconventional and find excitement in
a game of chance.
The apartment in which she held her " receptions "
and entertainments was unique. The principal room
was a large and lofty studio, arranged like a grotto
with rocks and curious lights and secluded places
where there were divans. Here there was a dais, at
the back of which there was an organ, and a grand
piano stood upon it in a French frame all over cupids,
and it was here that the most extraordinary exhibi-
tions of dancing were given by the Papowsky hand-
maidens and others.
The other people who lived in this apartment house
had already begun to talW about it in whispers, and
its reputation had gone out into the city. One or two
feeble complaints had been made to the police, but
without any avail. At the moment when Graham had
first entered it, it was in its second year and was flour-
ishing like the proverbial Bay Tree. The magnets
which drew him to this house of Arabian Nights were
the roulette table in a secluded room at the end of the
passage, and one of the hand-maidens of the Papow-
sky, whose large, gazelle-like eyes and soft caressing
hands drew him from other haunts, and followed him
into his dreams.
Graham's hat and coat were taken by a Japanese
servant, whose little eyes twinkled a welcome
The long, brilliantly lighted passage which led to
the st«d,o was hung with nudes, some of them painted
■n oils wnh a sure touch, some highly finished in black-
and-wh,te, and the rest dashed oflf in chalks,- rough
.mpressjonist things which might have been drawn by
art students under the influence of drink. Between
them m narrow black frames there was a collection of
diabolically clever caricatures of well-known singers
actors, authors, painters and politicians, each one
bringing out the weaknesses of the victims with
peculiar impishness and insight. The floor of the pas-
sage was covered with a thick black pile carpet, which
smothered all noise.
As Graham entered the studio several strange minor
chords were struck on th» niano and a woman's deep
comralto voice fillcu ..e larp- studio like winter wind
moaning through an oiu chimney.
The Papowsky, who was giving an evening for
young artists, and was half-covered in a more than
usually grotesque garment, slid out of the shadow and
gave Graham her left hand, murmuring a welcome,
txuding a curious pungent aroma, she placed a long
finger on her red, thin lips and slipped away again
tor some minutes Graham remained where she left
him, trying to accustom his eyes to the dim -though
far from religious - light. He made out men ia
128 THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN
dress clothes sitting here and there and the glint of
nymph-like forms passing from place to place, spring-
ily. The scent of cigarette smoke mixed with tliat of
some queer intoxicating perfume. The sound of
water plashing from a fountain came to his ears.
On his way to find a seat, Graham's arm was sud-
denly seized, he was pulled into a corner and found
himself, gladly enough, alone with the girl who called
herself Ita Strabosck. There was one blue light in
this alcove and by it he could see that the girl was
dressed like an Apache in black suit with trousers
which belled out over her little ankles and fitted her
tightly everywhere else. She retained her close grip
and began to whisper eagerly to him. Her foreign ac-
cent was more marked than usual, owing to the emo-
tion under which she obviously labored. Her heart
hammered against his arm.
" You have coine to zee me ? "
Graham whispered back. " Don't I always come
to see you ? "
" You like me? "
Graham bent forward and kissed her mouth.
" You love me? "
The boy laughed.
" S-s-s-h! Eef you
truly love me, I vill
" I've been waiting,'
touch of passion.
" Zen take me avay from this 'ell. I 'ave a soul.
Eet ees killing me. I 'ave a longing for God's air.
love me, eef you really and
to-night ask you to prove
said Graham, with a sudden
Take me back
woman <^1,» 1 "* ^''^ Papowsky ees a vile
woman She lure me .re and I am a prisoner You
do not know ti,e 'orrors of zis place. I am youn,
I am almost a child I was good and I can b ; od
agam At once, when you come 'ere, I saw in vou
one who m,ght rescue me from .is. I ove ^ You
-y you love me. I beseech you to take me awav "
per^dt'hir' 'T?' *'" ^"°''°"^' ^^PP-' -■^--
fo, nd V f"' ^ "'' >'°""& ^™^ t'«t ^vere flun^
St him %'"' '' '"^ ""'^ "^"''y ^-^^t -- a" -"
desire for™; "" ^^"^^ "^ -^^'^-'^y -^> his innate
girl.' Where could he put her?
Uy to help, but a hand was quickly placed over his
" Eef you believe in God, take me aw-.y. i do not
care what you do with me. I do not care eef you
love Zr ^r/°""^ ""'^ ^°" ^^^ ^ ■"-". and I
oveyou. I w.H be your servant -your slave. I
II k.ss your feet. I will give you myself. I wil
■ii vou.~ sT" r'"^ r'"''- ^'"' y°" do zis?
In the faint blue light Graham could see the large
e>es of the g.rl looking up at him through tears as
t'-"gh to a saviour. Her whole attitude LHne o
130 THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN
great appeal. Her young, slim body trembled and the
throbbing of her voice with its curious foreign accent
moved hira to an overwhelming pity. Here then was
something that he could do — was a way in which he
could exercise his bottled up sense of adventure which
had hitherto only been kept in some sort of control
by gambling and running risks.
" Do you mean that you're forced to remain here,
— that you can't get out if you want to? "
" Yes, yes, yes ! I tell you I was caught like a
wild bird and zis ees my cage. Ze door ees guarded."
A great excitement seized the boy. He lifted Ita
up and put his mouth to her ear. " You've come to
the right man. I'll get you out of this. I always
loathed to see you here, — but how's it to be done?
She has eyes in the back of her head, and those
damned Japanese servants are everywhere."
" Eeet ees for you to sink," said the girl. " You
are a man."
"I see," said Graham. "Right. Leave it to
He liked being made responsible. He liked the
utter trust which this girl placed in him. He liked
the feeling of danger. The whole episode and its
uncanny romance caught hold of him. It was not
every day that in the middle of civilization the chance
came to do something which smacked of medisevalism
— which had in it something of the high adventure
He said : " Get away quick and put your clothes
on. Don't pack anything — just dress. There won't
be any one in the roulette room until after twelve
Go in there and hide behind the curtains and wait for
me. Quick, now ! "
Once more the girl flung her arms about him and
put her lips to his mouth.
For several minutes Graham remained alone in the
alcove, with his blood running swiftly through his
vems — his brain hard at work. The woman on the
dais was still singing. In the vague, uncertain light
he could see the Papowsky curled up on a divan near
by, smoking a cigarette. Other people had come in
and made groups among the foolish rockery. Then
he got up quietly, went out into the passage and looked
about. He had never before explored the place, he
only knew the studio and the roulette room. It
dawned upon him that this apartment was just be-
neath the roof of the building. Somewhere or other
there was likely to be an outlet to the fire-escape.
That was the idea. He had it. The girl had said
that it would be impossible to take her away by the
mam door. Those Japanese servants were evidently
watch-dogs. Even as he stood there, wondering, he
saw that he was eyed by a small, square-shouldered
Japanese whose head seemed to be too large for his
body and whose oily deferential grin was not to be
trusted. He lit a cigarette, and putting on what he
considered to be an air of extreme nonchalance,
strolled along until he came to the roulette room. No
one was there. The candelabra were only partially
alight. He darted quickly to the window and flung
It up. The iron steps of the fire-escape ran past it
132 THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN
to the roof. " Fine ! " he said to himself. " Now I
know what to do."
He shut the window quickly and turned round just
as the man who had been watching him came in.
" Say ! " he said. " Just go and get me a high-ball.
Bring it here." He followed the man to the door and
into the passage and watched him waddle away. He
had not been there more than a moment "<'hen the door
opposite opened bit by bit, and the girl's face, with
large frightened eyes, peeped round the corner. In
a little black hat and a plain frock with a very tight
skirt she looked younger and prettier and more in need
of help than ev :r Without a word, Graham caught
hold of her banc , drew her into the passage, shut her
door, ran her into the roulette room and placed her
behind the curtains, making sure that her feet were
hidden. Whistling softly to himself he sat down and
waited. The man seemed to have been gone half an
hour. It was really only a few minutes before he
waddled back on his heels. Graham took the drink.
" How soon do you think they'll begin to play to-
night?" he asked, keeping his voice steady with a
The Japanese shrugged his shoulders. " As usual,
sir," he said, smiling from ear to ear and rubbing his
hands together as though he were washing them.
" Any time after twelve, sir — any time, sir."
" All right ! " said Graham. " I shall wait here."
He kept up the air of boredom until he imagined
that the small, black-haired, olive-tinted man had had
time to get well away. Then he sprang to the door.
saw that the passage was empty, darted" back into the
room and over to the window.
"Come on!" he said. "Quick's the wo.-d!" and
dimbed out, giving the girl his hand. For a moment
they stood tor<^ther on the ledge of the fire-escape, the
stairs of which seemed to run endlessly down With
a chuckle of triumph Graham shut the window, as
the girl gave a little cry of dismay.
She had called that place hell, but from the height
on which they stood it seerred as though they were
climbmg down from the sky.
" Uptown," said Graham to the taxi driver. " I'll
tell you where when I know myself."
A knowing and sympathetic grin covered the big
Irish face and a raucous yell came from the hard-used
engine, and the ta.xi went forward with a huee
The little girl turned her large eyes on Graham,
^ou do not know vhere you take me?" she
" No, by thunder, I don't. I can't drive you like
this to a hotel, you've got no baggage. Most of my
friends live in bachelor apartments, and the women I
know,— well, I would like to see their faces if I turned
up with you — and this story."
The girl's foreign gesture was eloquent of despair.
She heaved a deep sigh and drew into the comer of
134 THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN
■! V I
the cab. The passing lights shone intermittently on
her little white face. How small and pitiful and help-
less she looked.
The sight of her set Graham's brain working again.
In getting her out of the Papowsky's poisonous place
and leading her step by step down the winding fire-
escape and, when it ceased abruptly in mid-air, into
the window of a restaurant, he had been brought to
the end of one line of thought, — that of getting the
girl safely out of her prison. He now started on
another, while the cab rocked along the trolley lines
beneath the elevated railway, sometimes swerving
dangerously out and round the iron supports.
Suddenly Graham was seized with an idea. He put
his head out of the cab window and shouted to the
driver: "Fifty-five East Fifty-second Street."
The girl turned to him hopefully. " What ees
zat?" she asked.
" My home."
" Your 'ome ? You take me to your 'ome ? "
" Why no, not exactly. I'm going in to get a bag
for you. It won't have much in it except a brush and
comb and a pair of my pajamas, but with them we
can drive to any quiet hotel and I'll get a room for
you. In the morning I'll find a little furnished apart-
ment and you can go out and buy some clothes and
the other things that you need. How's that ? "
Ita caught up his hand and held it against her heart.
" But you are not going to leave me? "
" Yes, I must," said Graham. " I shall have to
■ister you as my sister. You've just come off the
srjr,":?: ".tor;., ?*• ^-■'."''
you every day there " ^ ' " ^'*
on God to bless hil ^ °n Graham's knees, calling
throat Something came into the boy's
thItV.T' r"'"^ ^'■^"' ^^^""^ ''^hind a motor-car
'oot i;tSa"f tr^t '^^''■■^°" ^-- "
AlmostLfo^e th^ 'hTn ^''"'••" '''^ ^•'°"t«=d.
"Wait for r ,, " u ^'^ '^"PP"'^ ''^ J^aped out.
wait for me here," he added.
i-ets meet agam soon!" "'Kuc
Graham made np his mind what to do He h.^A
136 THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN
"Oh, thank you, Graham," said Dr. Guthrie.
" Have you just got back? "
" Yes; I thought I'd get to bed early to-night."
" You look as though you needed sleep," said the
Doctor. "But — but don't go up at once. Please
come and have a cigarette in my room. I've — I've
been speaking at the Academy of Medicine, — explain-
ing a new discovery. A gi^at triumph, Graham, a
great triumph. I would like to tell one of my sons
about it. Won't you come?"
There was an unwonted look of excitement on his
father's thin face and a rmg in his voice which made
it almost youthful. It was the first time that Graham
had ever received such an invitation. He was sur-
prised, and if he had not been so desperately anxious
to slip up-stairs, lay quick hands on the bag and get
away again he would have accepted it gladly. For
a reason that he could not explain he felt at that
instant an almost unbearable desire to fina his father,
to get in touch with him, to give something and re-
ceive something that he seemed to yearn for and need
more urgently than at any other moment in his life.
As it was, he was obliged to back out. " I'm fright-
fully tired to-night," he said, yawning.
"Oh, are you? I'm sorry," said the Doctor
apologetically. "Some other night perhaps — some
The two men stood facing each other uncomfort-
ably. Exhilaration had for a moment broken down
the Doctor's shyness. It all came back to him when
he found his son's eyes upon him like those of a
stranger. He took ofT his coat and hat, said " Good-
night " nervously and went quickly across the hall and
into his library.
He was deeply hurt. He stood among those price-
less books with a curious pain running through his
veins. " What's the matter with me ? " he asked him-
self. "Why do I chill my children and make them
draw back ? "
Graham shut the door, and then as quickly as an
eel ran up-stairs to his bedroom, turned on the light,
opened the door of the closet and pulled out a large
suit-case. Then he began to hunt among the drawers
of his wardrobe for some pajamas. He threw these
in. From his bathroom he caught up a brush and
comb and some bedroom slippers. These followed
the pajamas. Then he shut the case, picked it up,
crept quietly down-stairs, across the hall and out into
the street, shutting the door softly behind him. He
gave the taxi-driver the name of a small hotel fre-
quented by actors, and jumped into the cab.
Ita Strabosck welcomed him as though he had been
gone a week. " 'Ow good you are to me ! " she cried.
" Eef you never do anysing else een your life, zis that
you 'ave done for me vill be written down by zee
angels een your book."
Graham laughed. "The angels — I wonder."
All the same he was a little proud of himself. Not
many men would have perfected the rescue of this
little girl so neatly from a house in which her body
and soul were in jeopardy. It had been an episode
in his sophisticated life which was all to his credit.
138 THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN
Ke felt that,— with pleasure liked the idea of being
responsible for this poor little soul, of having some
one dependent entirely upon his generosity and who
presently would wait for his step with a fluttering
heart and run to meet him when he came in tired. He
liked also the thought that this girl would be a little
secret of his own, — some one personal to himself, to
whom he could take his worries — and he had many
— and get sympathy and even advice.
The cab drew up. Graham released himself from
the girl's arms and led her into the small and rather
fuggy foyer of the hotel, which was a stone's throw
from Broadway. A colored porter pounced upon the
bag and an alert clerk looked up from the mail that
he was sorting.
" I want a room for my sister," said Graham, " with
bath. Got one? "
" Fifth floor," said the clerk, after gazing fixedly
for a moment at something at the back of the screen.
He then pushed the book towards Graham.
Without a moment's hesitation, Graham wrote
" Miss Nancy Robertson, Buffalo," and took the key
that was extended to him. " Come on, Nancy," he
said, and led the way to the elevator, in which was
waiting a tall, florid woman carrying a -mall bulldog
in her arms. She had obviouslv not taken very great
pains to remove the make-up f . m her face which had
been necessary to her small part. Graham recognized
her as an actress whom he had seen some nights
before in an English play at the Thirty-ninth Street
Theatre, and he thouglit how queer life was and what
odd tricks It played. Not a foot away from each
other stood two women, the one just back from a place
m which she had been aping a human being in a piece
utterly artificial and untrue, the other who had played
a part in a tragedy of grim and horrible reality out
of which she had been carried before the inevitable
The colored boy, with a hospitable grin on his face
led the way along a narrow, shabby passage whose
wall-paper was much the worse for wear, and finally
opened the door of a small bedroom, switching on the
" I'll undo the case," said Graham quickly.
The boy drew back. " Sure."
"And say! If you'll see that my sister gets what
she rings for I'll give you five dollars."
"You bet your life, sah." There was a dazzling
glint of white teeth.
The cry of joy and relief which made the whole
room quiver, as soon as the porter had gone uent
straight to Graham's heart. " I guess it's not much
of a room," he said, a little huskily, " but we'll change
all this to-morrow."
The girl ran her hand over the pillow and the bed-
cover. "Oh, but eet ees zo sweet and clean," she
said, between tears and laughter, "and no one can
come. Eet ees mine. You are zo, so good to me."
Graham undid the case and spilt the meagre con-
tents on the bed. Then he put his hands on Ita's
140 THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN
shoulders and kissed her. "Good-night, you poor
little thing," he said. "Sleep well, order anything
that you want, and don't leave this room until I come
and fetch you. Your troubles are over."
She clung to him. " But you vill stay a leetlc —
just a leetle ? "
" No, I'm going now."
There was nowhere in Graham's mind the remotest
desire to stay. A new and strange chivalry had taken
the place of the passion that had swept over him earlier
in the evening when the blue light had fallen on her
She looke'l into Sis face, nodded and put her lips
to his cheek. • oood night, zen," she said. " You
'ave taken mt out of hell. You are very good."
And as Graham walked home under the gleaming
moon and the star-bespattered sky, there was a little
queer song in his rather lonely heart.
Poor, simple, sophisticated lad! How easy it had
been for that cunning little creature whose one ambi-
tion was to be the mistress of an apartment in business
for herself, to take advantage of his unfed sense of
adventure. She, and fate, had certainly played him
a very impish trick.
The Oceanic had been timed to dock at four-thirty,
but the thick mist at the mouth of the Hudson had
caused some delay and her mail had been heavy. The
consequence was that she was edged in to her dock
considerably more than an hour late, to be welcomed
by an outburst of long-expectant handkerchiefs.
During the period of waiting — by no means un-
pleasant, because the sun fell warml> ipon the won-
derful river — several brief, emotional conversations
took place between the people who had come to greet
Peter. The Guthries were there in a body,— even
Ethel had pulled herself together and had come to be
among the first to greet her favorite brother. Graham
wouldn't have missed the occasion for anything on
earth. His love for Peter was deep and true. And
It was good to see the excitement of them all and of
the little mother, who was in a state of verging be-
tween tears and laughter all the time. Her big boy
was coming home again and once more she would
have the ineflFable joy of tucking him up at night some-
times, and asking God to bless him before she drew
the clothes about his ears as she had done so often.
Even the Doctor found it necessary to take oflf his
glasses several times and rub them clear of the mois-
ture that prevented him from seeing the approaching
vessel which seemed to have given herself up to the
bullying of the small but energetic tugs whose blunt
noses butted into her.
Betty brought her father; and these two, with a
delicacy of feeling characteristic of them, placed them-
selves among the crowd away from the Guthrie fam-
ily. Intuitively, Betty knew that much as Mrs.
Guthrie liked her, she would rather resent her pres-
ence there at such a moment. Belle's quick eyes very
soon discovered them, however, and presently they
143 THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN
permitted themselves to be drawn into the family
It was a curious moment for Ranken Town=,»nd and
his feelings were not unlike those of little Mrs.
Guthrie. " My God ! " he said to himself as he stood
looking out at the wide river, its marvellous and
strenuous life and the amazing sky-line of the build-
ings on the opposite bank ; " has the time arrived
already for me to lose my little girl? Am I so old
that I have a young thing ripe enough for marriage
and to bring into the world young things of her
own ? "
The artist had only met the elder Guthries once be-
fore, although Belle was a particular friend of his,
having been frequently brought to his studio by Betty.
He knew Peter only from having seen him in the treas-
ured snapshots which his little daughter brought home
with her from Oxford. He had to confess to him-
self — although his natural jealousy made him unwill-
ing to do so — that Peter looked just the sort of man
whom he would like his daughter to marry when her
time came. ArU so he singled out Mrs. Guthrie
almost at once and drew her aside. The breeze blew
tlirough his Viking beard, and a fellow-feeling
brought into his eyes an expression of sympathy which
immediately warmed Mrs. Guthrie's heart towards
him. " I didn't want to come this afternoon, Mrs.
Guthrie," he said. "Shall I explain why?"
" No," said the little mother. " I quite under-
" Your boy and my girl are following the inevitable
laws of nature, and it's rather hard luck for us both
isn t It r
Mrs Guthrie put her handkerchief „p to her mouth
" Betty's a good girl and I've only to look at you to
know that the man to whom she's given her heart is
a fine fellow. Well, it brings us up to another mile-
stone, doesnt it? -one that I wish was still some
with unselfishness, and be friends. Shall we'"
han7''^'''" '"'"^ '''' ""'^ '"°"'''' ^'""S "™ her
Ranken Townsend bared his head
And then Dr. Guthrie came ip and peered at the
man who was talking to his wife. He vaguely re-
membered the artist's picturesque appearance and fine
open face, but he had forgotten his name
Mrs. Guthrie hurried to the rescue. " You remem-
ber Mr. Townsend, of course. Hunter," she said.
Betty s father, you know."
"I beg your pardon," said the Doctor "Of
course I remember you, and I'm very tielighted to see
you agam You have friends coming on the Oceanic
too, then ? "
Townsend laughed. "No, I don't know anvbodv
on her - not a soul. All the same I've come to meet
" Indeed ! It's very kind of you, I'm sure." And
hen the Doctor suddenly remembered that sooner or
later he d be obliged to share Peter with the man who
stood before him, and just for a moment he -like
144 THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN
; ■ i
his wife and like the other father — felt the inevitable
stab of jealousy. He covered it with a cordial smile.
" What am I thinking about ? Betty brought you,
naturally. We must meet more often now, Mr.
" I should like nothing better. I don't know your
boy yet except through his photographs and my hav-
ing met his mother, but I'm very proud to know that
my little girl is to bear a name that will always be
honoured in this country."
Dr. Guthrie blushed and bowed, and put his hand
up to his tie nervously.
It was a curious little meeting, this. All three
parents were self-conscious and uncomfortable. They
would have been antagonistic but for the very true
human note that each recognized. They were all
reminded of the unpleasant fact that they were in
sight of a new and wide cross-road in their lives,
along which they were presently to see two of their
young people walking away together hand in hand.
Parentliood has in it everything that is beautiful, but
much that is disappointing and inevitable — much that
brings pain and a sudden sense of loneliness.
There was a very different ring in the conversation
of Betty and Belle, who stood a few yards away sur-
rounded by people of all the strange conglomerate
nationalities which go to make up the population of
the United States. Good-tempered, affectionate and
excitable Hebrews were already shouting welcomes to
their friends on the Oceanic, as the vessel drew slowly
nearer. Temperamental Irish were alternately wav-
mg handkerchiefs and daubing their eyes with them
and others -of French, German, Dutch, Swedish,'
Norwegian, Russian and English extraction - were
trymg to discern the faces of those who were near
and dear to them among the passengers who were
leanmg over the rails of the vessel. It was an ani-
mated and moving scene, very much more cheery than
the ones which take place on the same spot when the
great trans-Atlantic Liners slip out into the river.
"Look!" cried Belle. "There's Nicholas. Isn't
he absolutely and wonderfully English ? "
"And there's Peter!" said Betty, with a catch in
her voice. "And isn't he splendidly American?"
" Oh, I'm so excited I can hardly stand still. I've
dreamed of this every night ever since we came home "
"So have I. But this is better than dreams.
Look! Peter has seer. us. He's waving his hat.
Even his hair seems to be sunburnt."
Belle laughed, though her eyes were full of tears
" I can almost smell the violet stuff that Nicholas puts
Then there was the usual rush as the liner slid into
her berth, and as Mrs. Guthrie was swept away with
It, holding tight to Graham's arm, she said to herself-
He waved to Betty first. O God, make me brave! "
All the same, it was the little mother to whom Peter
went first as he came ashore, and he held her very
tight, so that she could hardly breathe, and said:
Darling mum! How good to see you! " and there
was something in that.
The Doctor took his boy's big hand with less self-
]f -i, i
146 THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN
consciousness than usual. He wished that he might
have had the pluck to kiss him on both cheeks and thus
follow the excellent example of a little fat Frenchman
who had nearly thrown him off his balance in his
eagerness to welcome a thin, dark boy.
"Hello, Belle! Hello, Graham! Hello, Ethel!"
And then Peter stood in front of Betty, to whom he
said nothing, but the kiss that he gave her meant more
than the whole of a dictionary. " Oh, my Peter ! "
Nicholas Kenyon followed with his most winning
smile, and was cordially welcomed. He had charming
things to say to everyone, especially to Belle. After
close scrutiny, Ethel's inward criticism of him was
that he had " escaped being Oxford."
And then Ranken Townsend held out his hand.
" But for me, Peter Guthrie," he said, " you wouldn't
have had a sweetheart. Shake ! "
A wave of color spread all over Peter's brown face.
He grasped the outstretched hand. " I'm awfully
glad to see you," he said.
" And I'm awfully glad to see you." The artist
measured the boy up. Yes, he was well satisfied.
Here stood a man in whose clean eyes he recognized
the spirit of a boy. Betty had chosen well. " Do
you smoke a pipe ? "
" Well, rather."
" I thought so. Bring it along to my studio as soon
as your mother can spare you and we'll talk about
life and lo- and the great hereafter. Is that a bet? "
" That's a bet," said Peter. And he added, putting
his mouth close to Betty's ear: "Darling, he's a
corker! He likes me. Gee, that's fine ! " Then he
turned to his mother, ran his arm round her shoulder,
walked her over to the place in the great echoing, bus-
thng shed over which a huge " G " hung, and sat down
with her on somebody else's trunk which had just
been flung there, to wait with unapproving patience
for that blessed time when one of the officialdom's
chewing gods, having forced a prying hand among his
shirts and underclothing, should mark his baggage
with a magic cross and so permit him to reconnect
himself with life.
Nicholas Kenyon, as immaculate as though he had
just emerged from a bandbox, slipped his hand sur-
reptitiously into Belle's. " Are you glad to see me ? "
he asked, under his breath.
Belle said nothing in reply, but the look that she
gave him instead set that expert's blood racing through
his veins and gave him something to look forward to
that alone made it worth crossing a waste of unneces-
" A VERY pleasant domestic evening," said Kenyon,
standing with his back to the fireplace of the library.'
"The bosom of this family is certainly very warm,
Peter, my dear old boy, I had no idea that you were
going to bring me to a house in which a Prime Min-
ister or the President of the Royal Academy might
be very proud to dwell. Also, may I congratulate you
148 THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN
upon your little sister? She's a humorist. I found
myself furbishing up all my epigrams when I spoke
to her. By Jove, sh»'s like a BaHol blood with his
hair in a braid."
A quiet chuckle came from Graham, who was sit-
ting on the arm of a big detp chair, looking up at Ken-
yon with the sort of admiration that is paid by a
student to his master. " I don't know anything about
Baliol bloods," he said, " but Ethel takes a lot of beat-
ing. When she quoted Bernard Shaw, at dinner,
father nearly swallowed his fork."
Peter was sitting on the table, swinging his legs.
" Oh, she'll be all right when she gets away from
her school. She'll grow younger every day then.
What awful places they are — these American girl
schools. They seem to inject into their victims a sort
of liquid artificiality. It takes a lot of living down.
Upon my soul, I hardly knew the kid! Two years
have made a most tremendous difference in her. I
thought I should throw a fit when she looked at me
- just now in the drawing-room and said : ' The child-
ish influence of Oxford has left you almost unspoiled,
Peter, dear.' "
Kenyon laughed. "Excellent!" he said. "I
know the English flapper pretty well. It'll give me
extreme delight to play Columbus among the Amer-
ican variety of the species." He looked round the
beautiful room with an approving eye. " That must
have been a very civilized old gentleman who made
this collection. I wonder if he bought some of the
books from Thrapstone- Wynyates ! My father was
iTZ If r,H°' ',""" "^" "•" - -~"
"^;.s«rv bullion Jy„„ ,?"' '""' "«' ™« ' «'*
" I hope not," said Peter
there J do? •"'""' "°''°"'" "'^ ^-^°"- " ""t whafs
"Oodles of things," said Graham.
monlt; r ,e'lr-^ /'"^ f "^ ^°"- ^''^ ^""
for twinkling aL.es the ri; '.' ^'^"" "^ ^ ""■"'
the nfost des^eratelv tr"". """""^^°- "^'^
added i„wart,r^.taV;hT;S.r--" And He
round and have a iaw ? tu ■ ^ '^°'"*
matavir„^. jaw — ? Thanks, awfully! I'll
' *'"' "^''' ^^^^^ He turned back to the other
ISO THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN
two men. " Great work," he said. " You two will
have to go alone to-night. However, we've a thou-
sand years in front of us. See you at breakfast. So
long ! "
" Wait a second," said Graham. " I'll ring up a
taxi and we'll all ride down together."
" Right-o ! " said Peter. " I'll rush up to my room
and get a pipe."
When he came down again he found Kenyon and
Graham waiting at the open door. A ta.xicab was
chugging on the curbstone. Kenyon got in first, with
his long cigarette holder between his teeth and a
rakish-looking opera hat balanced over his left eye.
He carried a thin black overcoat. All about him there
was the very essence of Piccadilly. Peter sat beside
him and Graham opposite. The cab turned round,
crossed Madison into Fifth Avenue and went quickly
downtown. The great wide street, as shiny as that
of the Champs 6lysee, was comparatively clear of
traffic. Peter looked at the passing houses with the
intense and affectionate interest of the man who comes
home again. At the corner of West Forty-second
Street Graham stopped the cab. "It's only a short
walk to the best of the cabarets," he said ; " we'll let
Peter go straight on. Come on, Nicholas, bundle
" Where are we going; ' asked Kenyon, making a
" Louis Martin'?, old boy," said Graham.
" Pretty hot stuff. I hope. Au revoir, Peter. Do
your best to make the bearded paint merchant like you.
You'll have some difficulty " AnH with ♦»,,» ^-
*... «»■»<■,■.,.<, „ „™ .', ,J'i:^^js
now, my lad," he said cordially " I took th.
to a party. You may meet her mother, I'm not sure
She s out at one of her meetings -she spends her
I'fe at meetmgs-and if she comes in tired a she
generally does, she probably won't come into h
ud o. However, that need only be a pleasure de-
o7l%ulZr^'' I^ so, she'll nail you for one
rat'he'r^eTot"" ^^'^ '"^^' -'*^ -''"<'^- " ^'^
rf' n the room looked larger than it was. It reeked
to I.- pervaded w,th the personality of the man vTh„
spent most of his life in it n„« t .u
ms lite in it. One of the top windows
through It came the refreshing air that
♦>"■ Hudson. Peter caupht ^ glimpse
; sky, which was alive with stars. It
152 THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN
Work was done there. It
place. He liked
The artist took Peter's hat and coat and hung them
in the alcove. Then he went across tlic room and
turned up the light that hung over a canvas. " How
d'you like it?" he asked.
Peter gave an involuntary cry. There sat Betty
with her hands folded in her lap. To Peter she
seemed to have been caught at the very moment when
from his place at her feet he looked up at her just
before he held her in his arms for the first time. Her
face was alight and her eyes full of tenderness. It
was an exquisite piece of work.
Townsend turned out the light. He was well
pleased with its eflfect. Peter's face was far better
than several columns of printed eulogy. " Now come
and sit down," he said. " Try this mixture. It took
me five years to discover it, but since then I've used
no other." He threw himself on the settee and set-
tled his untidy head among the cushions.
The light shone on Peter's strong profile, and when
Townsend looked at it he saw there all that he Iioped
to see, and something else. There was a little smile
round the boy's mouth and a look in his eyes that
showed all the warmth of his heart.
" And so you love my little girl as much as that?
Well, she deserves it, but please don't take her away
from me yet. I can't spare her. She and my work
are all I've got, and I'm not lying when I say that she
comes first. Generally when a man reaches my age
he has lived down his dependence on other people for
Snnd h" , u ""''" '"=''"'' '"■^ --*--. his
mv litM. "['''!"• ^" ""^ "^^ "•«' '•»"•' ^o. and
mer. She renders my disappointments almost null
and void, and she encourages me not wliolly to sa r.fi e
rnyself to the filthy dollar-an easy temp'a^onl In
"v mtirh- , '° '°"' '^ '" '"° ^''^' ^ '""y "o take
tTee Doe Ih'r" ""I '"'" ' "^^' f- "^^ '"--'her
tree. Does that sound very selfish to you? "
No, said Peter; "I understand. Besides -
good Lord!-rve got to work before I carmake
Lgt-- '"" "°"^'' '"' ''"• ^'^ — bacTto
m;2r' ^'"'•' ^ "'°"^'" P"haps that Oxford
™ght hav^e taken .some of the good .American grit out
tT\ /' J"^' — ^d to me that you might be T.
Zllr\ '''"■; '"P ^°" "'^'■^ y- -"'--'to
remam an undergraduate out here in life. A 'ood
7Z tZ.Z7 *"" ^'"' '-'-'''' ^^'"-^ p'^^ '^-
in mv'bloH"°'T ".'•'':' ^''"' "•"" *'^"^'^ ^^'"^thing
oTtV r *'""'' "■' porridge.- that urges mf
feeliS r'f- ^"''^^' ^ •''^""•^ "«' 'here's
me w nf to ^" 1 .' '°"'"'"^ ^''""^ ""' 'hat makes
rm r^n . Tu ,^ "^ ^'"'^^ ^°^ -" '"^-t he's done.
Im most awfully keen to do that. Mr. Townsend-
H^ money has come by acci.ient. I'm not going to
ak advantage of it. I'm going to start in just as U
to b^V \""' hard-working doctor that he used
o be when he sent me to Harvard, skinning himself
'odoso. I think he'll like that. Anyway. Lt'T my
154 THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN
plan. And as to Oxford, — well, I should have to be
a pretty rotten sort of a dog if I didn't gain something
there — that wonderful place out of which men have
gone, for centuries, all the better for having rushed
over its quads and churned up tlie water of its little
old river and stood humbly in its chapels. Don't you
" I do indeed, my dear lad ; but somehow or other
the younger generation doesn't seem to take advantage
of those things, and the sight of the young men of
the present day and their callous acceptance of their
fathers' efforts make me thank God that I never had a
boy. I sliould be afraid. Think of that! What are
you going to do, Peter? What is your line of
work ? "
" The law."
"The law? Well, I guess that's a queer sort of
maze to put yourself into. An honest man in the law
is like a rabbit in a dog kennel. Is that your definite
" Absolutely," said Peter. " I chose the law for
that reason. I think that honesty is badly needed in
it. I've got a dream that one of these days I shall be
a judge and make things a bit easier for all the poor
devils wlio have made mistakes."
"God help you!"
" I shall ask him to," said Peter.
The artist looked up quickly. In his further keen
and rather wistful scrutiny of the great big square-
shouldered man with the strong, clean jaw-line anil
the firm mouth there was a little astonishment. " Do
THE CITY ,55
you mean to tell me that in the middle of these queer
;.->d.sc.p,.„ed, individualistic times you beTeve 1
pJ.iV°°"? r""'"''^ '■" ^'''™« f°^ « "'°'"-t. until
Pe er leaned forward and knocked out his pi,,. -
you be quite so r^ady to trust Betty to ;,c>"
At that moment the door was swuni; ope," and a
all. stout hard-bosomed woman with a L-,ss ^i ':"
hair and the carriage of a battleship sa.le.l i„ Ifer
evenmg clothes glistened with sequins and nunv l„r.^
b ads rattled as she came forward. She wore a' stri,;:
of pearls and several diamond rings. Unable to (Iglu
any longer aga.nst advancing years and preserve wLt
had cultivated a presence and developed distinction.
n any meetmg of women she was inevitably voted to
tl>e cha.r, and in the natural order of things became
president of all the Societies to which she attached h"!
self, except one. In this isolated case the woman who
upplanted her. for the time being, was even taller
stouter and harder of bosom,- in fact, a born presi-
The two men rose.
findth*'' ^^f'"- '*'" "P' *•''"' ^ half-expected to
find the studio m darkness. You'll be glad to hear
that we passed a unanimous resolution to-night con-
demning this country as a republic and asking that it
Shall become a monarchy forthwith."
Townsend refrained from looking at Peter " In-
«leedl" he said gravely. "An evening well spent.
iS6 THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN
But I want you to know Peter Guthrie, Dr. Hunter
Guthrie's eldest son, just home from Oxford."
Mrs. Townsend extended a large well-formed hand.
" Let me see ! What do I know about you ? You're
the young man who — Oh, now I remember.
You're engaged to Betty. But before I forget it, and
as you are just out of Oxford, I'll put you down to
speak afthe annual meeting next Tuesday at the Wal-
dorf, of the Society for the Reconstruction of Uni-
versity Systems. Your subject will be ' Oxford as a
Menace to the Younger Generation.' Tliere will be
no fee — I beg your pardon ? "
Peter's face was a study in conflicting emotions.
He looked like a lonely man being run away with in
a car that he was wholly unable to drive. Townsend
turned a burst of laughter into a rasping co '\
" You're awfully kind," said Peter, almost stamnii-r-
ing. " But I believe in Oxford."
" Ah ! Then you shall say so to the Society for the
Encouragement of Universities, on Thursday at eight
sharp, at the St. Mary's Public School Building, Brook-
" As a matter of fact, I don't speak," said Peter.
"I — I never speak."
" Why, then, you shall be one of the chief thinkers
at the bi-monthly meeting of the Californian Cogita
tors. I'm not going to let you off, so make up your
mind to that. And now I'm going to bed. I'm as
tired as a dog. Good-bye, Paul, — 1 mean Peter. Ex-
pect me to call you up one day soon. There's so much
to do with this world chaos that we must all put our
THE CITY 157
hands to the wheel." And with a wave of her hand,
Mrs. fownsend sailed majestically away
Peter gasped for breath and the artist subsided into
the diyan and gave way to an attack -a very spasm
— of laughter, which left him limp and weak
" Never allow Betty to get bitten by the meeting-
bug, son, he said, when he had recovered. " It isn't
any fun to be married to a bunch of pamphlets.
What! Are you off now?"
"I'm afraid I've kept you up, as it is, Mr. To^vn-
send. I _ I want to thank you for your immense kind-
ness to me. I shall always remember it. Good
night ! '
Rankin Townsend got up, stood in front of Peter
for a moment and looked straight at him. He was
senous again. "Good night, my dear lad," he said.
I feel that I can trust Betty to you and that takes a
load off my mind. Come often and stay later "
Peter walked all the way home along Madison Ave-
nue. That part, at any rate, of the great sleepless
cty was resting and quiet, and the boy's quick foot-
steps echoed through the empty street. He was glad
10 be back again in New York -glad and thankful
-Somewhere, in one of her big buildings, was his love-
.i?irl — the woman who was to be his wife — the rea-
son of his having been born into the world. No won-
<ler he believed in God.
158 THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN
The following afternoon Peter was to call at the
apartment-house on Gramercy Park at half-past-four.
He had arranged to take Betty for a walk, — a good
long tramp. There were heaps of things that he
wanted to tell her and hear, and several points on which
he wanted to ask her advice. He was not merely
punctual, as becomes a man who is head over heels
in love — he was ten minutes before his time. All the
same, he found Betty waiting for liim in tlie hall,
talking to a big burly Irishman who condescended to
act as hall-porter and who looked not unlike a briga-
dier-general in his rather over-smart uniform. This
man had known Betty for many years and watched her
grow up; had received many kindnesses from her and
had seen her bend by the hour over the cot of his own
little girl when she was ill. His face was a study
when he saw Peter bound into the place, catch sight
of Betty and take her in his arms, and without a single
touch of self-consciousness pour out a burst of in-
coherent joy at being with her once more.
Catching his expression, in which surprise, resent-
ment and a sort of jealousy were all mixed, Betty said,
when she got a chance : " Peter, this is a friend of
mine, Mr. O'Grady."
Peter turned and held out his hand. " How are
you? All Miss Townsend's friends have got to be
my friends now."
The Irishman's vanity was greatly appealed to by
the simple manlinesE of Peter's greeting, his cheery
smile and his utter lack of side. He smiled back and,
having given the hand a warm grip, drew himself up
and saluted. At one time he had served in the British
Army, and he wanted Peter to know it. He would
have told him the story of his life then and there with,
very likely, a few picturesque additions, but before
he could arrange his opening sentence the two young
people were out in the street. He watched them go
off together, the one so broad and big, the other so
slight and sweet, and said to himself, rolling a new
quid of tobacco between his fingers : " .J^h. thin ; it's
love's young dream once more ! And it's a man he is.
God bless both of them! "
"Are you feeling strong to-day, darling?" asked
" Strong as a lion," said Betty. " Why? "
" Because I'm going to walk you up the Avenue and
into the Park and about six times round the reservoir.
Can you stand it ? "
Betty laughed. "Try me, and if I faint from ex-
haustion you can carry me into the street and call a
taxi-cab. I'm not afraid of anything with you."
"That's fine! This is the first time we've been
really alone since I came back. It'll take from now
until the middle of next week to tell you even half
the things I've got to say. First of all, I love
'' Darling Peter."
" I love you more than I ever did. much more — a
hundred times more — and I don't care who hears me
i6o THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN
say so." That was true. He made this statement,
not in a whisper, but in his natural voice, and it was
overheard by several passers-by wlio turned their
heads, — and being women, smiled sympathetically and
went on their way with the deep thrill of the young
giant's voice ringing in their ears like music.
They stood for a moment en the curbstone trying
to find an opportunity to cross the street. Betty gave
herself up to the masterly person at her side witliout
a qualm. She adored being led by the arm through
traffic which she wouldn't have dared to dodge had
she been alone. It gave her a new and splendid sense
of security and dependence.
The rain had begun to fall softly. It gathered
strength as they turned into Fifth Avenue, and came
down smartly. Betty didn't intend to say a word about
the fact that she was wearing a new hat. It had es-
caped Peter's notice. Her face was all he saw. He
wasn't even aware that it was raining until he took
her arm and found her sleeve was wet.
" Good Lord ! " he said. " This won't do. Dash
this rain, it's going to spoil our walk. Where can we
go? I know." A line of taxis was standing on a
stand. He opened the door of the first one. " Pop
in, baby," he said. " We'll drive to the Ritz and have
tea. I can't have you getting wet."
Betty popped in, not really so profoundly sorry to
escape that strenuous walk as Peter was.
Being a wise man he took full advantage of the taxi-
cab, and for all the fact that it was broad daylight
and that anybody who chose could watch him, he gave
THE CITY ,6,
Betty a series of kisses which did something to make
up for lost t„ne and a long separ.for,. Th! tXl
uffered rather in t.,e process but what d.d th ma .
Hovels his^^er »— ^^ ^-ep.aced - such
^ther had something J his f;VnS;;waVt
ha there was nothing I couldn't tell him ~ nothng
^>at he wouldn t understand. Well, well- there it Ts
^^n :^"' ''"' ^r"--°".as bei;:: z
tverythmgll come out all right. I hope."
How d>d you like mother?" asked Betty
the Tre test"are''''< "■; """'"'"^ ""'' ^"^^ -■'"
u^mfr^ she undoubtedly a wonderful
Noman but she scares me to death. The verv firsf
say'" i"»Kmg. What are you gomg to
ta "cr list. v\ill you promise that?
i62 THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN
Already I wake up in the middle of the night in an
"Don't worry," said Betty, "Mother's a very
strong-minded woman, but she's awfully easy to
manage. And now I want you t<3 promise me some-
"Anything in the world," said Peter.
" Well, then, don't mistake the Ritz for that dear
little open place where the fairies dance, and suddenly
kiss me in front of the band and all the people having
" Hard luck," said Peter. " I'll do the best I can.
But you're such an angel and you look so frightfully
nice that I shall have all I can do to keep sane."
The cab drew up and they got out, went through the
silly swinging doors which separate a man from his
girl for a precious moment and into the Palm Court
where the band was playing. Peter gave his hat and
stick to a disgruntled waiter, who would have told
him to check them outside but for his height and
The place was extraordinarily full for the titne of
year. Everywhere there were women, and e\ery one
of them was wearing some sort of erect feather in her
hat. It gave the place the appearance of a large
chicken run after a prolonged fracas. The band was
playing the emotional music of La Bohi-me. It was
in its best form. The waiter led them to a little tablt-
under a mimic window-sill which was crowded with
plants. Many lieads turned after them as they ad
ventured between the chattering groups. It was so
•'What sort of tea do you like?" asked Peter
A yth,„g hot and wet. or have you a cho «>
Reany. I dont know the difference between one and
tetd toast. °""'^ '-'''' '-'• ^"^ -''• "-d •>-
h s Us .n .. "■''" '"° '^'^ '°^ ^"'^'' P'^«« ^nd
end of the room Kenyon was sitting with Belle. Betty
had seen them at once, but she held her peace For
he first t,me in her life she appreciated tL a;t tha
wo ,s company. Both men were too occ p d to
recognize anybodv. "<-Lupiea to
evemhini'' 7h ''"'"" '"'^ '"" "' ^""'"■'**»'"" about
e erjthmg, and Betty was an eager listener as he talked
an.l new and exhdaratmg. and it didn't require much
-a.,„at.on on the part of either of them'to beTi
hat they were s,tt„,g in their own house, far awav
ro,„ people, and that Peter had just come home ate
•it oh 'V'' "" ""' '''^- ''■^"" -- '■>-> new
\K roa performing in the corner. Only one thini
•;:;-ie Hetty aware of the fact that thev vere i' ,f
K t>^ Hotel, and .hat was the pattern of the te cup
^h never would have cho,sen such things, and if Tv
'-1 l^-n g,ven ,0 her as a wedding p„se t sl,e loS
i64 THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN
have packed them away in some far-off cupboard. She
had already made up her mind that their first tea serv-
ice was going to be bhte-and-white, because it would
go with her drawing-room, — the drawing-room which
she had furnished in her dreams.
" I don't think you'd Ixjuer do that, Peter," whis-
pered Betty suddenly.
" Do what, darling? Butter wouldn't have melted
in his mouth.
" Why, hold my hand. Everybody can see."
"Not if you put it behind this end of the table-
cloth. Besides, what if they can? I'm not ashamed
of being in love. Are you? "
" No ; I glory in it. But "
" But what ? " He held it tighter.
" I think you'd better give it back to me. There's
an old lady frowning."
" Oh, she's only a poor benighted spinster. And
anyhow she's not frowning. She put her eyebrows
on in the dark."
" Very well, Peter. I suppose you know best."
And Betty made no further attempts to rescue her
She had two good reasons for leaving it there, — the
first, that she liked it, and tlie second that she couldn't
take it away. But she made sure that it was hidden
by the tablecloth.
" Won't you smoke, Peter ? "
"Oh, thanks. May I?"
" All the other men are. "
Peter took out his case and his cigarette holder.
It was very easy to take out a cigarette with one
hand, but for the life of liim he couldn't man«uvre
It mto the tube. Was he so keen to smoke that he
would let her hand go?
He gave it up and broke into a smile that almost
made Betty bend forward an.l plant a resounding kiss
on his square chin. " Well, I'm dashed," he said.
I believe you asked rn- to smoke on purpose to get
"I did," she said. " Peter, youVe — you're just a
And that was why he upset the glass of water.
^^ Presently he said, when peace was restored:
"What d'you think I've done to-day? I've fixed up
a seat in the law office of two friends of mine. They
were at Harvard with me — corkers both. I intend
to start work ne.xt week. Isn't that fine? We're
going to mop up all the work in the city. Darling
that apartment of ours is getting nearer and nearer.'
I shall be a tired business man soon and shall
want a home to go to, with a little wife waiting
And Betty said : " How soon do you think that'll
Before Peter could answer, Belle's ringing voice
broke in. She and Kenyon had come up unnoticed.
The turtle doves," she said. "Isn't it beautiful
And the spell was b.oken They little knew, these
two who were so happy, that in the fertile brain of the
i66 THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN
man who stood smiling at them was the germ of a
plan which would break their engagement and bring
a black cloud over the scene.
The family dined early that evening. Graham had
taken a box at the Maxiiit Klliott Theatre. He and
Kenyon and Petei .verc to take Belle and Betty there
to see a play by Edward Sheldon, about which every-
body was talking. Little Mrs. Guthrie, who was to
have been one of the party, had decided to stay at
home, because the Doctor was net feeling very well,
and so she was going to sit with him in the library
and see that he went to bed early, and give him a dose
of one o[ those old-fashioned cures in which she was
a great believer.
Naturally enough, although he was not an ardent
play-goer, Peter was looking forward with keen pleas-
ure to the evening because he would be able to sit close
to Betty and from time to time whisper in her ear.
During dinner, however, which was a very merry
meal, with Kenyon keeping everyone in fits of laugh-
ter, Peter caught somethmg in his mother's eyes whidi
made him revolutionize his plans. The little mother
laughed as frequently as the rest of them, — to the
casual observer she v;as merry and bright, with noth-
ing on her mind except the slight intlisposition of the
Doctor. But Peter, who possessed an intuitive eye
which had a knack of seeing underneath the surface
of thinps and whose keen sympathy for those he loved
was very easily stirred, Iwame aware of the fact that
his mother was only simulating liglit-heartedness and
stood ill need of something from him.
He threw his mind back quickly, and in a moment
knew what \vas wrong. During the short time that
he had been back in the city he had forgotten to give
his little mother anything of himself. That was wrong
and ungrateful and e.\tremely selfish, and must be
remedied at once.
VVitliout a moment's he.sitation he decided to cut
two acts of the play and do everything that he could
to prove to the little mother who meant so much to
hmi that, although he vas engaged to be married, she
still retained her place in his heart.
Dinner over, he went f|uickly to the door and opened
It. and as his mother passed out he put his arm round
her shoulders and whi.-pered. " Mummie, dear, slip
"I) to your room and wait there for me. I want to
talk to you." The look of gratitude that he received
from the dear little woman was an immense reward
Kir his imselfishness. Then he went up to Graham
and said : " Look here, old boy, I find I shan't be able
to go along with you now, but I'll join vou for the
" Oh, rot !" said Graham. "What's up? Betty'll
lie awfully upset."
" No, she won't." said Peter. " I'm going to send
her a note." .And while the others were getting ready,
lie dashed off a few lines to the girl who, like himself,'
understood the family feeling. It contained only a
* I J
MICROCOTY RESOIUTION TEST CHAIIT
(ANSI ond ISO TEST CHART No. 7)
Ki ill 2.2
1:25 i 1.4
1^ i^ m
A APPLIED IIVMGE In
^5-^ 165! East Moin 5t'ert
S^E Rochester. New York 1*609 u^
^^= (716) *82 - 0300 - Phone
i^= (716) 288- 5989 - -o.
i68 THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN
few lines, but they were characteristically Peterish
and were calculated to make Betty add one more brick
to the beautiful construction of her love for him, be-
cause they showed that he understood women and
their sensitiveness and realized their urgent need of
tenderness and appreciation.
As soon as the party had driven away, Peter col-
lected a pipe and a tin of tobacco and went quickly
up the wide staircase. He rushed into his mother's
own particular room with all his old impetuosity and
found her sit*^ing at a table by the side of a great work-
basket in which he saw a large collection of the socks
that he had brought home with him and which stood
badly in need of motherly attention. No man in this
world made so many or such quick holes in the toes
of his socks as Peter did, and he knew that she had
ransacked the drawers to find them. He drew up a
chair, thrust his long legs out in front of him and made
himself completely comfortable.
This little room was unlike any other in the house.
In it his mother had placed all the pet pieces of inex-
pensive furniture wliich had been in the sitting-room
of the little house in which she and the Doctor had
settled down when they were first married. It was
unpretentious stuff, bought in a cheap store in a small
town, — what is called " Mission " furniture, — curi-
ous, uncomfortable-looking chairs which creaked with
every movement, odd little sideboards, which would
have brought a grin either of pain or amusement to
the face of the former owner of the beautifully fur-
nished house which had been left to the Doctor. The
walls were covered with photographs of the family i„
all stages,- Peter as a chubby baby with a great curl
on top of his head- Belle in a perambulator smiling
widely at a colored nurse -Graham in his first sailor
;?"~ """''''^ ^'""y^'' '" a Partv frock,
Thmkmg of Mother "-and over the mantel-piece
one — an enlargement — of the Doctor taken when he
was a young man, with an unlined face an<l thick
straight hair his jaws set with that grim detcrmina-
.on which had carried him over so many obstacles
It was a room at which Graham, Belle and Ethel fre-
quently laughed. But Peter liked it and respected it
He felt more at home there than anywhere else in the
house. It reminded him of the early struggles of his
father and mother and touched ever> responsive note
m his nature.
"I'm sorry you're not going to the theatre, dear "
said Mrs. Guthrie.
" No, you're not," said Peter.
"Oh indeed I am. I like you to enjoy yourself
with the others, and Betty'll be there. Only stay a
few minutes; and, as the curtain always goes up late,
you 11 be in time to see the whole of the play "
" Blow the play ! " said Peter. " I'm going to tail-
to you just as long as I like. I can go to the theatre
any night of the week."
Mrs. Guthrie dropped her work, bent forward and
put her cheek against Peter's. " You're a dear, dear
boy, she said. " You're my very own Peter, and
even if I were a poet I couldn't find words to tell you
how happy you make me; but I did my best
not to let
170 THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN
you see that I was just a wee bit hurt because you
haven't had time to spare me a few moments since you
came home. After all, I'm only a little old mother
now, and I must try to remember that."
" Oh, don't," said Peter. " I'm awfully sorry I've
been such a thoughtless brute. But, no one — no,
no one — can ever take your place, and you know it."
He went down on his knees at her side and wrapped his
strong arms round her and put his head upon her
breast as he used to do when he was a little chap, and
remained there for a while perfectly happy.
'le couldn't see the Madonna look which came into
the eyes of the little mother, whose pillow had fre-
quently been wet with tears at the thought that she
had lost her boy. Nor did he see the expression of
extreme gratitude which spread rather pathetically over
her face. But he felt these things and held her tightly
just to show how well he understood, and to eliminate
from her heart that feeling of pain which he knew
had crept into it because he had found that other little
mother who was to be his wife and have sons of her
Presently he returned to his chair and to his pipe,
and began to talk. " By gad ! " he said, " it's good to
be home again. I find myself looking at everything
differently now — quite time, too. I should have been
at work years ago. Universities are great places and
1 shall never regret Oxford, but they take a long time
to prepare a fellow to become a man." Then he
laughed one of his great and big laughs, and his chair
creaked and one or two of the old pieces of furniture
THE CITY 171
seemed to rattle. " I hid those socks, but I knew ■•ou'd
find them. What a mother you are, mother! Til
make a bet with you."
;; I never bet," said Mrs. Guthrie, who was all smiles.
1 11 bet you a hundred dollars you never mend
Oraham s socks. Now then tell the truth "
" Well, no, I don't. He doesn't like socks that have
been mended; and, anyway, he isn't my first-born.
You see that makes a lot of diflFerence "
" There you are," said Peter. " Pay up and smile.
Oh. say ; I n, sorry father's seedy. He sticks too closely
to those microbes of his. I shall try to screw up cour-
age and take him on a bust now and then. It'll do
him good. Think he'll go ? "
__ Mrs. Guthrie looked up eagerly. " Try," she said
Please do try. Now that you've come home for
good I want you to do everything you can to get closer
o your father. He's a splendid man an. ,,' always
thinking about you and the others, but I know that
he II never make the first move. He doesn't seem to
understand how to do it. But he deserves evervthing
you can give him. If only you could break down his
shyness and diffidence,- because that's what it is-
you d make him very happy."
" Yes, that's what I think," said Peter. " I've been
thinking it over, especially since I saw the way in
which Kenyon's father treats him. I shall pluck up
courage one of these nights, beard him in his den and
have It out, and put things straight. I want him much
more than he wants me; and. d'you know, I think that
braham wants him too."
THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN
" I'm sure he does," said Mrs. Guthrie. " Gra-
ham's a good boy, but lie's very reckless and thinks that
he's older than he is. He comes to me sometimes with
his troubles, but how can I help him? I wish, Peter,
I do wish that he'd go sometimes to his father ! "
" Well, I'm going to try to alter all that," said Peter.
" It's got to be done somehow. Father's always been
afraid of us, and we've always been afraid of father.
It's silly. What d'you think of Nicholas? Isn't he
Mrs. Guthrie smiled. " He improves on acquaint-
ance," she said. " He's certainly one of the most
charming men I've ever met. Do you think " — she
lowered her voice a little — " do you think there's any-
thing between him and Belle ? "
"Good Lord!" said Peter. "I never thought of
that. Is there?"
" Well," said Mrs. Guthrie, " I've noticed one or
two little things. He's been writing t'- her, you
" Has he ? By Jove ! Well, then, there must be
something in it. He's a la^y beggar and I don't be-
lieve I've ever seen him write a letter in his life. Gee,
I shall be awfully glad to have him for a brother-in-
law ! That topping place in Shropshire ! Belle would
make an absolutely perfect mistress of it, although
there's plenty of life in the old man yet. By Jove,
it was good to see the relationship between Nick and
his father. It staggered me. Why, they were as
good as friends. They go about arm in arm and tell
each other everything. It used to make me feel quite
SIC sometimes. Think of my going about arm in
arm with father ! "
" Think of P-lle becoming the Countess of Shrop-
shire! I should like that. It would be another
feather in your father's cap,— your father who used
to carry siphons in a basket."
" More power to his elbow," said Peter. " It might
have been better for me if I'd carried siphons in a
basket. After all, I'm inclined to believe that there's
no university in the world like the streets. Think of
all the men who've graduated from windy corners and
muddy gutters — It'd be a fine thing for Ethel, too,
if Belle marries Nick. Isn't she an extraordinary
kid? Upon my word, she takes my breath away.
She's older at sixteen than most women are at thirty.
By the way, what's the matter with her? What's
anaemia, anyhow? She looks as fit as a fiddle."
^^ " Oh, she'll soon get over that," said Mrs. Guthrie.
"I think they bend too much over books at her school.
You know the modern girl isn't like the girls of my
generation. I didn't have to learn geometry or piano
playing. I didn't think it was necessary to know Eu-
clid or a smattering of the classics. We learned how
to make bread and cook a good steak and iron clothes.
You know husbands don't come home to hear Mozart
on a Baby Grand and enter into discussions about
writers with crack-jaw names."
"I know,— Ibsen, Schopenhauer, Hauptmann and
Tolstoy. No; they don't fill a hungry tummie do
" No, indeed they don't," snid Mrs. Guthrie. " And
174 THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN
that reminds tiic that I must go and give your father
his little dose. When a doctor isn't well he never knows
how to lools after himself." She got up and put down
her work, and then bent over Peter. " Thank you for
coming up to-night, my dearest boy. I've had a queer
little pain in my heart for a long time, but you've taken
it all away. Now run along and see your Betty, and
don't worry about your little mother any longer."
Peter got up and put his hands on his mother's shoul-
ders. " Listen ! " he said. " I love you. I shall al-
ways love you. No woman shall ever come between
me and you." And he caught her m his amis and
And then she bustled down-stairs to the library,
where the Doctor was taking it easy for once and
dipping into one of the numerous books that sur-
rounded him. There was a smile on Mrs. Guthrie's
face which was like the sun on an autumn morning.
On the way to his bedroom Peter passed the door of
Ethel's room, and drew up short. He had heard her
say she was going to bed early. He hadn't had many
words with her since he got back. So he decided to
go in and wipe off that debt, too. When he tried to
open the door he found that it was locked. He started
a devil's tattoo "vith his knuckles. " Are you there,
Kid ? " he shouted out.
The answer was " Yes."
" Well, then, open the door. I want ti come
After a moment the door was opened and Ethel
stood there in a very becoming peignoir. She looked
THE CITY ,75
extremely disconcerted and did her best to bloc"- the
way into the room.
But that wouldn't do for Peter. " \\hafs all
th.s?_ he asked. "We lock our door now. do
.f '7'1 '°"''}'T''" ^^"'d Ethel. •' \\hy aren't vou
at the theatre.' She shot a surreptitious glance'to-
war<ls the window, which was open.
^^ " I've been having a talk with mother." said Peter.
Frightfully swagger now. isn't it. New art eh'
You re coming on, my ,lear. there's no mistake about
don't you" ' ' ^'''" ^"'^ "' '" ^PP^"'"g'>- provincial,
Ffh)^ ^'^'"^JT °" ^'^'''^ ^ace was no new thing to
Ethel. He had always pulled her leg and treated her
as though she were a sort of freak. All the same, she
ked his coming ,n and was flattered to know that he
thought It worth while to bother about her. But she
began to edge him to the door. He had come at a
most unpropitious moment.
" Oh ho! •' said Peter. " So this's what higher edu-
cation does for vou ' A nire m,\-f,„.„ ■
«nrl,« I ^^"'"""^ture — cigarettes and
candies - 1 must say. Now I know whv you locked
your cioor. With a marshmallow in one hand and an
Egyptian Beauty in the other you lie on your sofa in
tne latent thing in peignoirs and see life through the
table. Good Lord ! " he added ; " you don't mean
to say you stuff this piffle into you? " It was a col-
lection of plays by Strinberg.
176 THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN
" Oh, go to the theatre ! " said Ethel. " You're be-
ing horridly Oxford now and I hate it."
" You'll get a lot more of it before I've done with
you," said Peter. " All tlie same, you look very nice,
my dear. I'm very proud of you, and I hope you will
do me the honour to be seen about with me sometimes.
But how about taking soi c oi that powder off your
nose? h you begin trying to hide it at sixteen it'll
be lost altogether at twenty." He made a sudden
pounce at her and holding both her hands so that she
could not scratch, rubbed all the powder away from her
little proud nose aiiJ made for the door, just missing
the cushion which came flying after him, and took
himself and his big laugh along the passage.
Immensely relieved at being left alone, Ethel locked
the door again and went over to her dressing-table,
where she repaired damage with quick, deft fingers.
With another glance at the window, — a glance in
which there was some inpatience, — she arranged her-
self on the settee to wau.
No wonder Peter had made remarks about this
room. It was deliciously characteristic of its owner.
Large and airy: all its furniture was white and it.s
hangings were of creamy cretonne covered with little
rosebuds. The narrow bed was tucked away in a cor-
ner so that the writing-desk, the sofa and the revolv-
ing book-stand — on which stood a bowl of r-ammoth
THK CITY ,77
chrysanthemums -mght dominate the room. Sev-
eral mezzotints of N\ atts' pi, ur.s hung on the walls
Sm '' n'T ^;r'' illustrations of the Arabian
N.ghts. by Dulac. The whole efTect was one of naive
Through the open window the various sounis of the
citys activity floated rather pleasantlv. There was
even a note of cheerfulness in the insistent bells of the
trolley-cars on Madison Avenue and the chugging of
a tax.-cab on the .ther side of the street. Before
many minutes had gone by a rope ladder dangled out-
•side the window, and this was followed immediately
afterwards by the lithe and wiry figure of a boy Wear-
mg a rather sheepish expression he remained sitting
on the sill, swinging his legs. "Hello!" said he
How are you ling?"
_ "There . some improvement to-night." said Ethel
^jVont you come in.' Were y<,u waiting for a sig-
" You bet ! "
He was a nice boy, with a frank, honest face, a blunt
nose and a laughing mouth. His hair was dark and
thick, and his shoulders square. He w- eighteen and
ne looked every day of it. He lived next door and
was the son of a man who owned a line of steamships
and a French mother, who >,as not on speaking tenns
"■th Mrs. Guthrie, owing to the fact tnat the Doctor
had been obliged to remonstrate about her parrot
tins expensive prodigy gave the most l-f»like and
treriuent imitations of cats, trolley^ai ,, newsbovs,
s.rens and other superfluous and distressi-g disturb-
B'i ' >i
178 THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN
ances on the window-sill of the room which was next
to his laboratory. So this boy and girl — uncon-
sciously playing all over again the story of the Mon-
tagues and Capulets — met surreptitiously night aftei
night, the boy coming over the roof and using the rope
ladder — which had played its part in all the great
romances. Was there any harm in liini? Well, he
" What'll you have first ? " asked Ethel, in her best
hostess manner — "candies or cigarettes?"
" Both," said the boy ; and with a lump in his cheek
and an expression of admiration in both eyes he
started a cigarette. He was about to sit on the settee
at Ethel's feet, but she pointed to a chair and into this
he subsided, crossing one leg over the other and hitch-
ing his trousers rather high so that he might display
to full advantage a pair of very smart socks, newly
" I hope you locked your bedroom door," said
Ethel, " and please don't forget to whisper. There's
no chance of our being caught, but we may as well be
The boy nodded and made a little face. "If father
found out about this," he said ; " oh, Gee ! What
did you do with Ellen after she bounced in last night? "
" Oh, I gave her one of my hats. I told her that if
she kept quiet there was a frock waiting for her. She's
safe. Now, amuse me ! "
For some minutes the boy remained silent, worry-
ing his brain as to how o comply with the girl's rather
difficult and peremptory request. He knew that she
was not easy to amuse. He was a little 'ightened
at the books she read and looked up to her with a
certain amount of awe. He liked her best when she
said nothmg and was content to sit ,ite quiet an.l
look pretty. After deep and steady thought he took
a chance. " Do you know this one? " he asked, and
started whistling a new ragtime through his teeth
It was new to Ethel. Sh .iked it. Its rhvthm set
her feet moving. "Oh. that's f^ne," she said.
VV hat are the -vords ? "
The boy was a gentleman. He shook his head,
thereby .stimulating her curiosity a hund d-fold
" Oh don't be silly. I shall know tl ., sooner or
later, whatever they are — besides, I'm not a child"
The boy lied chi\alrously. " Well, honestly, I don't
know them,— something about ' Row, row, row '— T
don't know the rest."
She knew tliat he did know. She liked him for not
telling her the truth, but she made a mental note to or-
der the song the following morning.
And so, for about an hour, these two young things
«ho imagined that this was life carried on a desultory
conversation, while the boy gradually filled the room
with cigarette smoke, and remained reluctantly a whole
yard away from the sofa. It was all very childish and
simple, but to them it was romance with a very big R
They were making believe that they had thrown the
world back about a hundred years or so. He was a
knight and she a lady in an enemy's castle; and, al-
though their mothers didn't speak, they liked to ignore
the fact that Mrs. Guthrie would have had no objec-
i8o THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN
tion to his coming to tea as often as he desired and
taking Ethel for walks in broad daylight whenever he
wished for a little mild exercise. But, — he was
eighteen, and so presently, repulsed by her tongue but
enticed by her eyes, he left his chair and found himself
sitting on the settee at Ethel's feet, hold' -t; her hand,
which thrilled him very much. She was kinder than
usual that night, sweeter and more girlish. Her
stockings were awfully pretty, too, and her hair went
into more than usually delicious ripples round her
" You're a darling," he said suddenly. " I love to
come here like this. I hope you'll be ill for a month."
Aid he slid forward with gyr nastic clumsiness and
put his arm round her shoulder. He was just going to
kiss her and so satisfy an overwhelming craving when
there was a soft knock on the door and Dr. Guthrie's
voice followed it. "Are you awake, Ethel? '
The boy sprang to his feet, stood for a moment vvitli
a look of peculiar shame on his face, turned on his
heels, made for the window, went through it like a
rabbit and up the troubadour ladder, which disappeared
Ethel held her breath and remained transfixed.
Again the knock came and the question was repeated.
But she made no answer, and presently, when the sound
of footsteps died away, she got up — a little peevish
and more than a little irritable — kicked a small pile
of cigarette ash which the boy had dropped upon her
carpet, and said to herself: "Just as he was going to
kiss me ! Goodness, how annoying father is ! "
The following morning Belle took Nicholas Ken
yon for a walk. Dressed in a suit of blue flannel w th
vhne lM„e buttons, with a pair of white spats glelm
'ng over patent leather shoes and a grey hat stuck Tt
an angle of forty-five, Kenyon looked^T f re h a„d a
with *r ,, . ^^'^' ^' ^ '"^"«'- °f fa-^t. come home
se s the enviable g,ft of looking healthy and untfred
tu™ tl V"* "' "''^''^ "'"■'^'' '"^'^^ the ordinary man
turn to chemistry and vibro-massage
Belle had sported a new hat for the occasion.
h.s fact Kenyon realized with that queer touch of
ntu, ,on which was characteristic of him "By
Jove! he said. " That's something like a hTt Bell
Hearty congratulations. You suit 'it to perfectl" "
Belle beamed upon him. " But you would say that
anyhow, wouldn't you?" ""'" say mat
"Perfectly true; but in ninety-nine cases out nf ,
hundred I shouldn't mean it." ^ "^es out of a
They turned into Madison Avenue. It was an ex
quisite morning. The whole city was bathed in sfn
Ss toftef '"' T' °' '^'^ ^"'""" -^ - t^^ "i"'
ers n. ^^l ^°"''^ ""'' ^*"' <^'°^«d. their own-
ers lingermg ,„ the country or abroad. All the same
here was the inevitable amount of traffic in he st e^I
and apparently the usual number of passers-b . The
c.t> can be-according to the strange little creatures
182 THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN
who write society news—" utterly deserted " and yet
contain all its teeming millions.
" And what may that be? " asked Kenyon, pointmg
to the heavy white buttresses of a church which backed
on the street.
" Oh, that's the Roman Catholic Cathedral."
"Roman Catholic, eh? I noticed churches every-
where as we drove up from the docks,— more churches
than pubs apparently, and yet I suppose it would be
quite absurd to imagine that New Yorkers imbibe
their alcohol entirely in the form of religion."
" Quite," said Belle, dryly. " Although we have a
hundred religions and only five cocktails."
" I see you also go in for antique furniture."
Belle laughed. " You have a quick eye," she said.
" There's so much genuine Old English stuff in this
city that if it were sent to England there wouldn't
be room for it on shore. Tell me; what are your
" Well," said Kenyon, " I'm going to accept your
father's perfectly charming hospitality for a fortnight
and then take rooms in a bachelor apartment-house, of
which Graham has told me, for the winter."
"You're going to settle down here?" cried Belle.
" Rather,— for six months. I'm here to study the
conditions, make myself familiar with the character-
istics and J aw from both what I hope will be the
foundations of much usefulness." Kenyon consid-
ered that he had enveloped his true mission — which
was to lighten the pockets of all unwary young men —
with a satirical verbiage that did him credit.
" I thought that perhaps you'd come for some other
reason," said Belle, whose whole face showed her dis-
Kenyon shot a quick glance at her. How naive
she was — how very much too easy — but, neverthe-
less, how very young and desirable. " That goes with-
out saying, you delicious thing," he replied, closing
his hand warmly round her arm for a moment and so
brmgmg the light back to her eyes. " By the way "
he continued, " what's the matter with Graham? "
" I don't know that anything's the matter with Gra-
"I think so. I notice a worried look about him
that he didn't have at Oxford; that he seems to be
always on the verge of telling me something, and draw-
ing back at the last minute. I must make a point of
findmg out what his trouble is. Peter and I were dis-
cussing it this morning after breakfast. We're both
a bit anxious about him. Do you know if your father
has noticed it ? "
Father? Oh, he doesn't notice anything. He be-
lieves that Graham is working very hard and doing
well. He knows less about what goes on in our house
than the people who live next door."
" That's rather a pity. I'm all for complete con-
fidence between father and son. However, I shall
play father to Graham for a bit and ^ee what can be
done for him. He puzzles me. There's a mystery
Something of this mystery was disclosed to Ken-
yon and Peter that night. After dining them both
184 THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN
at the Harvard Club -a place which filled Kenyon
vVh admiration and surprise _ Graha.n suddenly sug-
gested, with a queer touch of exc.tement. that they
should go with him to his apartment,
snuuiu gvj "What on earth
"Your apartment? said f eter. wjmi
do you mean? "
" Well come and see," said Graham.
The two elder men looked at each other m amaze-
men' Kenyon's quick mind ran ahead, but Peter the
unsophisticaLd, was ^uite unable to understand hat
in the world Graham wanted an apartmen for when
he lived at home. They all three left West For r
fourth Street in silence and walked -mm arm d^wn
Fifth Avenue as far as Twenty-eighth Street. He e
fhey turned westward and followed Graham, who wa
wearing an air of rather sheepish pnde up the s^ps
Tf an old brown stone house with rather a shabby
" Dismal looking hole," said Peter.
" Wait! " said Graham, and he put his finger on a
hell The door opened automatically and he led he
tty inTo a tantily furnished hall and up three flig ts
If stairs, whose red carpet was in the autumn of it
days Drawing up in front of a door on the left of
i^pasfage heU again, and after a lengthy pause
was admitted to a small apartment by a colored maid.
who gave a wide grin of recognition.
-•Come right in." said Graham. "Lily, take ou
hats and coats. Don't leave them about in the hall.
Hang them up and then go and get some chmk.
Kenyon looked about him curiously. He could ,.ee
that the place was newly furnished and that everything
had been chosen by a man. He glanced into the din-
ing-room. The pictures were sporting and the furni-
ture mission. He detected no sign of a woman's hand
anywhere. He began to be puzzled. He had ex-
pected to find something quite different. But when
Graham opened the door of the sitting-room and
said : " Well, here we are, Ita ! " and he saw a small,
dark, olive-skinned girl rise up from a settee and run
forward to Graham with a little cry of welcome, he
knew that his deduction of the situation had been a
right one. So this was the mystery.
Still with the same air of sheepish pride, Graham
said: "Peter, this b. Miss Ita Strabosck. My
brother, Ita. And this is Nicholas Kenyon, who's a
great friend of mine. They've just come over from
England, and so of course I've brought them to see
The little girl held out a very shy hand, and
said : " I am so glad. Eet ees very good of you to
In a curiously plain tight frock of some soft black
material, cut square across her tiny breasts, and leav-
ing her arms bare almost to the shoulders, she stood,
with one knee bent, looking )m one man to the other
with a sort of wistful eagerness to be treated kindly.
She held a tiny black Teddy bear with red eyes against
her cheek, like a child.
Peter, for a reason which he was unable to explain
to himself, felt a wave of sympathy go over him. He
not only accepted the girl on her face value, but some-
i86 THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN
how or other believed her to be younger and more ro-
mantic than she looked. She seemed to him to have
stepped out of the pages of some Arabian book — to
be a little exotic whom Graham must have discovered
far away from her native hot-house. He liked the
way in which her thick hair was arranged round her
face, and he would have sworn that she was without
Not so Kenyon. "Great Scott!" he said to him-
self. " Here's a little devil for you. Our young
friend Graham has had his leg pulled. I've seen mos-
quitoes before, but the poison of this one will take all
the ingenuity of an expert to counteract."
He sat down and watched the girl, who threw one
quick antagonistic glance at him and attached herself
to Peter, to whom she talked in monosyllables. She
might only very recently have left a Convent School,
except that her dog-like worship of Grahair? seemed to
prove that she owed him a deep debt of gratitude for
some great service.
Graham watched her, too, and his expression showed
Kenyon that even if l.e didn't love her he believed in
her and was proud of himself.
By a sort of mutual cons nt the three men left the
apartment in Twenty-eighth Street early. They flid
not desire to finish the evening at any cabaret or cuib.
They called the first passing taxicab and drove home,
By mutual consent also they never once referred to Ita
Strabosck, but discussed everything else under the sun.
Kenyon had never been so useful. With consummate
tact — but all the while with the picture in his mind of
t: ? cunning little actress whom they had just left —
he led the conversation from dancing to baseball and
from country clubs to women's clothes. Whenever
the cab passed a strong light Graham made a quick,
examining glance at Peter's face. He knew old Peter
as well as Peter knew his piano, and he was quite well
aware of the fact that altliough his brother laughed a
good deal at Kenyon's quaint turn of phrase he was
upset at what he had seen.
It was just after eleven o'clock when they went into
the smoking-room of the house in Fifty-second Street.
Mrs. Guthrie and Ethel had gone to bed. Belle had
not returned from a theatre party. The Doctor was
at work in his laboratory. He heard the boys come
in. The sound of their voices made him raise his head
eagerly. He even half-rose from his chair in a desire
to join them and hear them talk, and laugh with them
and get from them some of that sense of youth which
they exuded so pleasantly, but his terrible shyness got
the better of him once more and he returned to his ex-
periments. How ironical it was that with complete
unconsciousness he was leaving it to such a man as
Nicholas Kenyon to play father to his second son, who
had never in his short life needed a real father so
For some little time — smoking a good cigar with
ccanplete appreciation — Kenyon continued to giv?
i88 THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN
forth his impressions of New York so far as he knew
it. He was especially amusing in his description of
the effect upon him of the first sight of the Great
White Way. Then, all of a sudden, there came one of
those strange pauses. It was Peter who broke the
silence. " Graham, old boy," he said, " tell us about
it. What does it all mean ? Good Lord ! you're only
twenty- four. Are you married?"
Before Graham could reply, Kenyon sent out a scoff-
ing lau^h. "Married! Is he married?" he cried.
" My good old grandfather's ghost, Peter! But how
indescribably green you are. Hang me if you're
not like a sort of Peter Pan! You'v- passed through
Harvard and O.xford with a skin over your eyes.
Its all very beautiful, very commerJable — and what
Belle would call 'very dear' of you — and all that
sort of thing, but somehow you make me feel that
I've got to go through life with you in the capacity
of the sort of guide one hires in Paris — the human
" But if Graham hasn't married that poor girl," said
Peter, bluntly, "what's he doing with her?"
Graham sprang to his feet and began to walk about
the room. All about his tall, slight, well-built T^'ure
there was a curious nervousness and excitement. Even
in the carefully subdued light of the room it was plain
to see that his face was rather haggard and drawn.
The boy looked years older than Peter. "I'll start
off," he said, " by giving you fellows my word of
honor that what I'm going to tell you is the truth. I
have to begin like thij because if either of you were
to tell me this story I don't think I should be able to
believe it. Some time ago I was .akcn — I foiRct by
whom — to a pestilential but rather amusing place in
Fortieth Street. Ifs a huge studio run b^' a woman
who calls herself Papowsky. It's what you. Xick,
would call the last word in supercffcteness. Ita Stra-
bosck was one of the girls. I liked her at once. I
didn't fall in love with her, but she appealed to nic an.l
It was simply to see her that I went there several times.
I knew the place was pretty rotten and I didn't cotton
)n to the people who were there or the thing; they did
I even knew that the police had their eyes en it, but
I liked it all the more because of tliat. It gave it a
sort of zest, like absinthe in whiskey."
" Quite : " said Kenyon. " Fire away ! "
" The last time I went there, Ita took me into a cor-
ner, told me that she was never allowed out of the
place and was a sort of White Slave, and begged me
to take her away. I don't think I shall ever forget the
sight of that poor little wretch trembling and -baking
It was pretty bad. Well, I took her away. I g„t her
out by a fire-escape when nobody was watching us.
Dodged through a window of a restaurant on the first
floor, and so out into the street. It was very tricky
work. The day after I took the apartment that you
came to to-night, furnished it, and there Ita has been
ever since. I go there nearly e\ery night until the
small hours. She's happy now and safe and I don't
regret it. She hated the place and the thin?, she had
been forced to do and nothing will make- i^e believe
that she was bad. She was just a victim — that's all.
190 THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN
And if I have to go without things I don't care so long
as she has all she needs. That's the story. What
d'vou think of it? "
Peter got up. went o\er to his brother and held out
his hand silently. With a rather pathetic expression
of gratitude in his eyes, Graham took it and held it
tight. "That's like you. Peter," he said, a little
Kenyon made no .Tiovement. He looked with a
pitying smile at the two boys as they stood eye to eye.
The whole thing sounded to him like a fairy tale and
for a moment he wondered whether Graham was not
endeavoring to obtain their sympathy under false pre-
tences. Then he made up his mind that Graham —
like the man with whom he had lived at Oxford —
was green ^'so, for all that he had knocked about in
New York for two years. Not from any kindness of
heart, b.;t simply because he wanted to use Graham
as a means of introducing him to the young male
wealthy set of the city, he determined to get him out
somehow or other of this disastrous entanglement.
He would however go to work tactfully without al-
lowing Graham to think that he had made a complete
fool of himself. He knew that if he wounded this boy's
vanity and brought him down from his heroic pedestal
he would set his teeth, put his back to the wall and re-
fuse to be assisted. With keen insight he could see
that this incident was likely to injure the usefulness of
his visit to America.
"Urn!" he said. "It's a pitiful story, Graham.
You behaved devilish well, old boy. Not many men
would have acted so quickly and so unselfishly. Now,
sit down and tell me a few things."
Gladly enough Graham did so, heaving a great ~,igh
lie was glad that he had made a clear breast of all
this. He was too young to keep it a secret. He
wanted .syiTi„athy urgently and a little human help.
Peter loadcl and lit a pipe and drew his chair into the
"This girl Ita What's-her-name loves you of
" Anyone could see that,'" said Peter.
"But she'd been in that studio .some time before
you came along, I take it.— I mean she'd been any-
body's property for the asking? "
Graham shuddered. "I hate to think so," he
Peter kicked the lef, of the nearest chair.
" How d'you feel ? " asked Kenyon.
" Awfully sorry for her," said Graham.
"Yes, of course. What I mean is, are voti all
Graham looked puzzled. " I find it rather difficult
to pay for everything," he said, " especially as I've
been damned unlucky lately."
The man of the world involuntarily raised his eye-
brows. "Good Lord!" he said to 'himself. "And
this boy is the son of a specialist. Blind — blind ! "
Then he spoke aloud, passing on to another point.
" How long do you think it is incumbent u—i you to
make yourself the guardian of this girl ;
192 THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN
Graham shrugged his shoulders. " She comes from
Poland. Her father and mother are dead and she has
no one to look after her."
" I'll help you," said Peter.
That was exactly what Kenyon didn't want. He
got up, went over to the tahle and mixed a drink.
" Potter off to Ijcd, Graham, old boy," he said. " Get
a good night's rest. You need it. We'll go further
into the matter in a day or two. It requires serious
consideration, .\nyway, I congratulate you. You're
a bit of a knight, and you've my complete admiration."
He led the boy to the door, patted him on the shoulder
and got ri<l of him. Then he returned to Peter, whose
face showed that he was laboring I'nder many conflict-
" Nick," he said, " he's only twenty-four — just
making a beginning. He did the only thing he could
do under the circumstances, but,— but what would
father say ? "
" I don't think it's a question as to what your father
would say," said Kenyon. " If I know anything, the
\/ay to put it is what can your father do? Of all men
in the city he's the one who could be most useful in
this peculiar mess-up— Peter, you and I have got
to get that boy out of this, otherwise "
" Otherwise what? "
" Otherwise — quite shortly — the police are likely
to fish out of the river the dead body of a promising
lad of twenty- four, and there'll be guat grief in this
" What d'you mean ? "
" Exactly what I say. That girls a liar, a cheat
and a fraud."
" I don't believe joii."
" I don't care whether you l)elieve me or not. She's
rotten from head to foot. She'.s as easy to read as an
advertisement. She's taking advantage of a fellow
who's as unsuspicious as you are. You're both green,
— green, I tell you, — as green as grass."
" I'd rather be green," cried Peter, hotly, " than go
through life with your rotten skepticism."
"Would you? You talk like an infant. Graham
will want to marry some day,— and then what ? Good
Heavens! Hasn't anybody taken the trouble to tell
you two any of the facts of life' You are neither of
you fit to be allowed out in the streets without a nurse.
It's appalling. Skeptical, you call me. You're blind,
I tell you. Blind ! So's the old man in the next roo^n.
There's an ugly shadow over this house, i'eter, a-
sure as you're alive. Don't stand there glaring Pt mt.
I'm talking facts. If you've got any regard for your
brother and his health and his future; if you want to
save your mother from unutterable suffering and your
father from a hideous awakening, don't talk any fur-
ther drivel to me, but make up your mind that the
girl, Ita Strasbosck. has it in lier power to turn Graham
into a suicide. She's a liar — a liar and a trickster and
a menace — and I'll make it my business to prove it to
you and Graham."
" You can't."
" Can't I ? We'll see about that. And you've got
to help me. We've got to make Graham see that he
194 THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN
must shake her off at once,— at once, I tell you. The
alternative you know."
Peter got up and strode about the room. He was
worried and anxious. He didn't, unfortunately, fully
appreciate the grivity of this affair, because, as Ken-
yon had said so tauntingly, he was a child in such mat-
ters. But what he did appreciate was that his only
brother had done something, however sympathetic the
moti'-e, which might have far-reaching consequences
and which did away with tlie possibility of his going,
as it was Peter's determmation to go, clean and
straight to a good girl.
He turned to Kenyon, who had made himself com-
fortable. " I'll help you > -r all I'm worth, Nick," he
" Right," said Kenyon. " I'll think out a line of ac-
tion and let you know to-morrow. There's no time to
Kenyon got rid of Peter, too.
Apart from the fact that he was going to wait up
for Belle, he wanted to be alone. He was angry, it
was just like his bad luck to come all the way to
America and find that the two men who had it in their
power to be of substantial use to him were both fully
occupied, — one being hopelessly in love, the other in
money trouble and in what he recognized as a difficult
and even dangerous position. With characteristic
selfishness he resented these things. They made it
necessary for him to exercise his brain,— not for him-
self—which was his idea of the whole art of living
— but for others. There were other things that he
resented also. One was the fact that Peter was what
he called a damned child. He had no admiration what-
ever for his friend's absolute determination lo look-
only at the clean things of life. A thousand time-
since they had shared the same rooms he had cursetl
Peter because of his sweeping refusal to discuss a
question which he knew to be of vital and far-reacliing
importance. At these times Peter had alwavs said
something like this: " My dear Nick, I'm no't going
to be a doctor, a woman-hunter, or a sloppy man about
town. I don't want to know any details whatever of
the things which stir up other men's curiosity I've
no room in my brain for them. Thev don't amuse me
or interest me. I'm jolly well going to remain a
damned child, whether you like it or not. so vou may
chuck trying to drag me into these midnight discus-
sions of yours with the men who hang nudes all over
their walls and gloat over filthy little French
And then there was Graham. He, like untold hun-
dreds of his type, had a certain amount of precocity,
but no knowledge. He had merelv peeked at the truth
of things through a chink. He liad looked at li fe with
the salacious eyes of a Peeping Tom. And what was
the result? Worse than total ignorance. Deep down
m whatever soul he had, Nicholas Kenyon honestly
and truly believed in friendship between father and
son. He knew — none better — because it was his
196 THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN
business to observe, that a young man was frightfully
and terribly handicapped who went out into the world
unwarned, unadvised and uninitiated. He had often
come across men like Peter and Graham whose lives
had been absolutely ruined at the very outset for the
reason that their fathers had either been too cowardly
or too indifferent to give them the benefit of their own
experience and early troubles. In fact, most of the
men he knew — and he knew a great many — had
been left to discover the essential truths and facts for
themselves. The inevitable end of it was that they
made their discoveries too late.
Fate certainly must have had a very grim amuse-
ment in watching Nicholas Kenyon as he walked up
and down the library of Dr. Hunter Guthrie's house
that night, blazing at the delinquencies of fathers.
Nevertheless, Kenyon had the right to be indignant,
whether his reasons for being so sprang out of his
selfishness or not. His own father was an unscrupu-
lous, unserious man, that was true, but at any rate he
had given his son a human chance. He could take it
or leave it as he liked. And when Kenyon, piecing
together all that he had heard of Dr. Guthrie from
Peter, from Graham and from Belle, added all that
to the very obvious fact that these two boys were out
in the world with blind eyes, he burst into a scoffing
laugh. In his mind's eye he could see the excellent
and distinguished Doctor rounding his back over ex-
periments for the benefit of humanity, while he utterly
neglected to give two of the human beings for whom
he was responsible the few words of advice which
THE CITY ,37
would ^render it unnecessary for the,n to becon^e his
If Kenyon had been a more generous man - if in
ness he would have gone at that very moment
-" t'o" hit"'' '°, '';,'°°^ °^ '""^ Doctors'labo rZy
.nto that wonderful room -sat down opposite the
man who spent hi. life i„ it with such noble concent a
take an opportunity Teh would reta"b^Sr ^
corchng angel to make one very good entry on t J
blank credu side of his account, and concentrated upon
a way m wh.ch he could use Peter and Graham fo7his
tore with wo jobs," as he called them -one to
queer Peter's engagement with Betty, in order tha l^e
to l.ft Graham out of his ghastly entanglement for
he same purpose. Bringing himself up to that po n
d relymg upon his ingenuit, vith complete confi
ten^d wTa" T' '™"'^ '^°''''' '^'^h-ball and
light I?ep '" ""°""' °^ '"^""^^^ f°^ B^"-'«
He hadn't long to wait. He had just gone into the
..y ghted hall with the intention of 'getting Lm
BeHHeltJr in.°°"^^' '''''' ''' '^^ ^^^^^ ^^
" You keep nice hours," he said
Belle had been dancing. Her cheeks were glowing
and her eyes bright. She had never looked so aU
198 THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN
conqueiingly youthful or so imbued with the joy of
Hfe. She came across to him like a young goddess of
the forest, with the wild beauty and that suggestion of
unrestraint which always made Kenyon's blood run
"Have you waited for me?" she asked. "How
perfectly adorable of you."
" What have you been doing? "
"Oh, the usual things — dinner, theatre, danc-
Kenyon went nearer and put his hands on her arms,
hotly. " Curse those men ! " he said.
"The men who've been holding you to-night.
Why have I come over? Can't you scratch these
engagements and wait for me? I'm not going to
share you with every Tom, Dick and Harry in this
A feeling of triumph came to Belle — a new feel-
ing—because hitherto this man's attitude had been
that of master. " You're jealous! " she cried.
Kenyon turned away sharply. For once he was not
playing with this girl for the sport of the thing, just
to see what she would say and do in order to pass away
the time. The whole evening had tended to upset his
calculations and plans. He had found himself thrown
suddenly into a position of responsibility,— a state
that he avoided with rare and consummate agihty.
And now came Belle, radiant and high-spirited, from
an evening spent with other men,— more beautiful and
desirable than he had ever seen her look.
him back. " You are jealous,
" Oh, good Lord, no," said Kenyon, with his most
bored drawl. " Why should I be? After all it isn't
for me to care what you do, is it ? It's a large world
and there's plenty of room for both of us — what?"
He walked away.
Triumph blazed in Belle's heart. Slie saw in Ken-
yon's eyes that he was saying the very opposite of the
thoughts that aere in his mind. She almost shouted
with joy. She had longed to see into the heart of this
man who was under such complete and aggravating
self-comrol,— even to hurt him to obtain a big, spon-
taneous outburst of emotiofi from him. She loved
him desperately, indiscreetly — far too well for her
peace of mind — and she urgently needed some
answering sparks of fire.
She didn't move. She stood with her cloak thrown
back, her chin held high and the light falling on her
dark hair and white flesh. This was her moment.
She would seize it.
" Yes, there is plenty of room for us both," she
said, " and the fact that I shall go on dancing with
other men needn't inconvenience you in the least. I
don't suppose that we shall even set each other in the
crowd. There are many men who'll give their ears
to dance with me,— I mean men who can dance, not
She drew blood. Kenyon wfit across to her
quickly. "How dare you talk to me like that!
Curse ihese men and their ears. Who's brought me
!•! •ii ;
200 THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN
to this country? You know I came for you,— you
know it. I CI" jealous — as jealous as the devil.
And if ever you let another man put his arms round
you I'll smash his face." He put out his hot hands to
But, with a little teasing laugh. Belle dodged and
flitted into the library. The spirit of coquettishness
was awake in her. She had the upper hand now and
ri small account to render for missed mails, and an
appearance of being too sure. She threw off her cloak
and stood with her back to the fireplace, looking like
one of Romney's pictures of Lady Hamilton come
Ken jn strode in after her, all stirred by her beauty.
"In future," he said, "you dance with me. You
Belle raised her eyebrows and then bowed pro-
foundly. " As you say, O my master ! " And then
she held out her arms with a sudden delicious abandon.
" Take me, then. Let's dance all the way through
Kenyon caught her, and all about the room these
two went, moving together in perfect unison, cheek
to cheek, until almost breathless Belle broke into a
little laugh, stopped singing, and said: "The band ^
tired." But Kenyon held her tighter and closer ami
kissed her lips again and again and again.
With a little touch of warning in its tone the clock
on the mantel-piece presently struck two, and lielle
freed herself and straightened her hair with a rather
uncertain hand. " I mu.st go now," she said breath-
THE CITY 201
lessly. •' Father may be working late. Supposing he
came through this room ? "
" Serve him right," said Kenyon.
They went upstairs together on tip-toe, and hahed
for a moment on the thresliold of Belle's bed-room
Through the half-open door Kenyon saw the glow of
yellow light on the dressing-uble, and the corner of
a virginal bed. Once more he kissed her and then
breathing hard, went to his own room, stood in the
darkness for a moment, and thanked his lucky star
for the gift of Belle.
The following afternoon, Peter, Kenyon and Belle
went to see Ranken Townsend's pictures and to have
tea with Betty. The little party was a great success,
x^eter and the artist got on splendidly together, which
filled Betty with joy and gladness, and Kenyon had
added to the general smoothness and pleasantness by
offering extremely intelligent and enthusiastic criticism
of the canvasses that were shown to him, drawing
subtle comparisons between them and those of Rey-
nolds and Gainsborough. Like all true artists, Town-
send was a humble man and unsuspicious. He be-
lieved, in the manner of all good workers, that he had
yet to find himself, although he had met with uncom-
mon success. He was, therefore, much heartened and
warmed by the remarks of one who, although young,
evidently knew of what he was talking and proved
himself to be something of a judge. When Kenyon
302 THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN
received a cordial invitation to come again to the
studio he solidified the good impression that he had
made by saying that he would be honoured and de-
There had been a sharp shower during tea, but the
sky had cleared when they left Gramercy Park, taking
Betty with them, and so they started out to walk
Belle and Betty went on in front, arm in arm, and
the two friends followed. This suited Kenyon ex-
actly. He had laid his plan and had something to say
Belle was very happy, and she showed it.^ She
looked round at Betty with her eyes dancing. " I can
see that you're dying to ask me something," she said.
" But don't. You and I don't have to ask each other
questions. We've always told each other everything,
and we always will."
" Belle, you're en-ga "
" S-s-s-h ! Don't mention the word."
" Well, we've been talking this afternoon and Nich-
olas says', and I think he's right — though I wish he
weren't — that he doesn't want to go to father until
he's been here longer and has made up his mind what
he's going to do. You see, he's not well off. He's
got to work,— although I can't fancy Nicholas work-
ing,— and so we're not going to be really engaged
for a few months. Meantime, he's going to look
round and find something to do. That'll be easy.
You don't know how clever he is,— not merely clever
— a monkey can be clever, or a conjurer — the word
I meant to use was 'able.' Aren't yoi' glad? Isn't
It splendid ? "
" Oh, my dear," said Betty, " wouldn't it be per-
fectly wonderful if we could be married on the same
day? Of course I've seen it coming "
Belle laughed. " I knew you'd say that. Person-
ally I didn't see it coming. After we'd left Oxford
I began to think that Nicholas had only been flirting
with me. He wrote such curious, aloof little letters
and very few cf them. They might have been written
by an epigramist to his maiden aunt; but last night
— well, last night made everything different, and this
afternoon we've had a long talk. Of course I wish
we were going to be openly and properly engaged, but
I m very happy and so I don't grumble."
"As the future Countess of Shropshire, I wonder
whether you will ever give a little back room in vour
beautiful English place to the young American lawyer
and his wife! "
" Betty, I swear to you that x don't care a dime
about all that now,— I mean the title and the place
It's just Nicholas that I want — Nicholas, and no one
else. I wouldn't care if he were what he calls a
'bounder' or a 'townee.' My dear, I'm mad about
him — just mad."
_ "Isn't everything as right as Truth?" said Betty.
The more I see Peter the more I love him. He's —
well, he's a man, and he's mine. He's mine for an-
other reason, and that's because he's always going to
be a boy, and I'm here to look after him. He'll need
204 THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN
me. And I must have him need me, too, because I
need to be needed. Do you understand ? "
Belle nodded. " You're the born mother, my dear,"
she said, " whereas, I'm,— well, not. I want love —
just love. I'll give everything I've got in the world
for that — everything. Love and excitement and
movement,— to go from place to place meeting new
people, hearing new languages, seeing new types, liv-
ing bigly and broadly, being consulted by a man who's
brilliant and far-seeing,— that's what I need. That's
mv idea of life. Ah-h ! " She shot out a deep breath
arid threw her chin up as though to challenge argu-
Betty vfatched her with admiration. She had never
looked so unusual, so exhilarated, so fine. All about
her there was the very essence of youth and courage
and health. There was a glow in her white skin that
was the mere reflection of the f^re that was alight in
her heart. Given happiness this girl would burst into
the most fragrant blossoming and gleam among her
sisters like a rose in a pansy bed. Given pain and dis-
illusion she had it in her to fling rules, observances,
caution, common sense and even self-respect to the
four winds and go with all possible speed to the
■ "What would have happened to us both if we
hadn't gone to Oxford? " asked Betty, with an almost
comical touch of gravity. "Think! I should be
doomed to be a little old maid, with nothing but an
even smaller dog to keep in order, and as for
"I? Don't let's talk about it. I should have gone
top-pace through several years and then, with thirty
looming ahead, married a nice safe man with oodles
of money who would spend his life following me
round. Thank Heaven, I shall never be the centre
of that ghastly picture ! "
And so they went on, these two young things, open-
mg up their hearts to each other as they walked home
and flying oflf at all manner of feminine tangents.
Kenyon, perfectly satisfied with his talk" to Belle,
whom he had secured without binding himself to any-
thing definite, was wearing white spats, and so he
picked his way across the wet streets like a cat on
hot bricks. For several blocks he permitteJ Peter to
talk about Betty. His affectation of interest and sym-
pathy was not so well done as usual. Pie had deter-
mined, with a sort of profes.sional jealousy, not to
allow Ita Strabosck to trade on Graham's credulity
any longer. All his thoughts were concentrated on
his plan to smash up that burlesque arrangement as he
inwardly called it. If anyone were to make use
of Graham he intended to be that one. The girl at
present a humble member of the great army of para-
sites in which he held a commission, must be cleared
out. Sue was inconveniently in the way.
When Peter was obliged to stop for breath Ken-
yon jumped in. "Look here!" he said. "You're
coming with me to the shrine of the pernicious Pa-
" You mean on Graham's business ? " asked Peter.
"Is i' absolrVly necessary to go to that place? "
306 THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN
" Absolutely. You'll see why, if everything works
as I think it will, when we get there."
" Right. And how alraut Graham?"
" You and Graham are going to have dinner with
me at Sherry's. I shall have to see that he has half
a bottle too much champagne. That'll make him care-
less and put a bit of devil into him. and when I sug-
gest that lie shall take us to Papowsky's, he will jump
at the notion. He's awful keen to show us what a
blood he is. Once he gets us inside the rest will
follow." , . ^
" I see. By Jove, I shall be thundermg glad when
Graham's plucked out of this wretched mess. The
only thing is I'm booked to dine with Mr. Townsend
at his club to-night."
" It can't be done," said Kenyon. " Directlv you get
home you must telephone. Say that an urget.c mat-
ter has just cropped up and beg to be excused. Call
it business — call it anything you like — but get out
"All right!" said Peter. "I'm heart and soul
with you, old boy. I'm very grateful for all the
trouble you're taking. You always were a good
" My dear Peter, add to my possession of the ordi-
nary number of senses one that is almost as rare as
the Dodo,— the sense of gratitude. Hello! Here s
some of the family in the carl"
They had halted on the steps of the Doctor's house
as Mrs. Guthrie and Ethel were driven up. Kenyon
sprang forward, opened the door and handed the
ladies out with an air that Raleigh himself would have
" Blood tells," said Belle, who watched from the top
step, with a proud smile.
" Ves," said Betty, " but I prefer muscle. Look! ■'
The pavement was uneven in front of the house
and the rain had made a little pool. So Peter picked
his mother up, as though she were as light as a bunch
of feathers, and carried her into the house.
" My dearest big boy ! " she said.
"Darling little Mum! " said Peter.
Kenyon, turned out as excellently as usual, led the
way into the dining-room at Sherry's. It was a quar-
ter to eight. Every other table was occupied. The
large room was too warm and was filled with the con-
glomerate aromas of food. Peter sat on the right of
his host and Graham on the le't. Both men were
quiet and distrait,— Peter because he was an.xious,
Graham for the reason that he had not been able to
leave behind him the carking worries that now fell
daily to his lot. Kenyon, on the contrary, was in his
best form, and even a little excited. Apart from the
fact that he rather liked having something to do that
would prove his knowledge of life and the accuracy
of his powers of psychology, he was looking forward
to be amused with what went on in the studio-apart-
ment of the Papowsky.
"By Jove!" he said, looking around and arrang-
208 THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN
ing his tie over the points of his collar with expert
fingers, — a .ni ig which Graham immediately pro-
ceeded to do also, — " this place has a quite distinct
atmosphere. Don't you think so, Peter?"
" One would, I see, choose it for a trying and dull-
bright dinner with a prospective mother-in-law or with
some dear thing, safely married, with whom one had
once rashly imagined one's self to be in love. Waiter,
the wine list ! "
Kenyon, scoring his first point, continued airily.
" For my part, I shall make a poi.jt of dining here one
night with an alluring young thing fresh from the
romantic quietude of a Convent School. I feel that
these discreet lights and reserved colours will give a
certain amount of weight and even solemnity to my
careful flattery— A large bottle of Perrier Jouet
'02, and be sparing with the ice. Peter, I think you'll
find that this caviare gives many points to the tired
stuff that used to be palmed off on us at Buol's and
other undergraduate places of puerile riotousness."
The linner, which Kenyon had ordered with becom-
ing care, would have satisfied the epicureanism of a
Russian aristocrat. During all its courses the host
kept up a running fire of anecdote which quickly made
the table a merry one. He also saw to it that Graham's
glass was never empty. They sat laughing, smoking
and drinking Creme Yvette until they were the last
people in the room e,\cept for an old bloated man and
a very young Hebrew girl. The band, which had
m X d ragtme .n ' -:n„,ina...;, -vith Italian opera and
Aus r.an waltzes, an.j p)ayed .hem all equaHy well,
w nt off to acquir. ,h. s.con. wind and the relaxed
muscles necessary ,or a lat.r performance, and the
vaiters had long s.nce rearranged the table for supper
l^efore kenyon suggested adjourning to a club for
■ Tame of b. Ihards whid, would amuse them until it
« .s fme to begin the business of the evening. So
*ey walked round to the Harvard Club, anS here
ieter-the only one of the party who was completely
his own master — became host
B^thTJ^^'l ""'" " ""'^ '^°'' °f '-«'^- o'clock.
By th,s t.me, havmg been additionally primed up with
one or two Scotch whiskeys. Graham was ready for
nnythmg and it was then that Kenyon suggested that
he should take them to the famous studio Gral am
jumped at the idea, falling, as Kenyon knew that he
would, mto the little trap set for him. "We're chil!
tn?h '"/«"' '''"^'' ^'''^'"''' ^' '^'"^' ^-'th a subtle
u.th the hd off I m most frightfully keen to see this
ace and .fl be great fun for you, duly protected, to
find out whether the Papowsky has discovered whether
.vou were the Knight Errant who rescued one of her
v.ctims. Romance, old boy- romance with a big R "
And so Graham, more than a little unsteady and with
uproarious laughter, led the way.
When they arrived at the studio-apartment in For-
■eth Street they found the hall filled with people
It happened that Papowsky was giving an Egvptkn
mght and nearly all of the habuL were i„%7c^
It: ii ;
2IO THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN
priate costumes. With the cunning of her species this
woman knew very well that few things appeal so
strongly to a certain type of men and women as dress-
ing up, — which generally means undressing. The
Japanese servant who took their hats and coat" wel-
comed Graham with oily and deferential cordiality.
" We are having a big night, sir," he said, with the
peculiar sibilation of his kind and with his broad, flat
hands clasped together. " It is Madame's birthday,
sir. Yes, sir. You and the gentlemen will enjoy it
Peter and Kenyon followed Graham into the studio.
Their curiosity, already stirred by the sight of the men
and women in the hall, was added to by the Rembrandt
effect of the high, wide room, whose darkness was
only touched here and there by curious faint lights.
The buzz of voices everywhere and little bursts of
laughter proved that there were many people present.
As they went in, a powerful lime-light was suddenly
focused on the centre of the room and into this slid
a string of young, small-breasted, round-limbed girls.
Led by one who contorted herself in what was sup-
posedly the Egyptian manner, they moved to and fro
with bent knees and angular gestures, and rigid pro-
files. Music came out of the darkness,— the music
of a string band with cymbals.
" Good Lord! " said Kenyon. " What an amazing
mixture of exotic stinks!"
"Look out for your money," said Peter, with a
touch of blunt materialism.
Graham made for an unoccupied alcove, in which
THE CITY 211
there was a flabby di\an. On this they all three sat
down and began to peer about. A few vards away
from them they presently made out an 'astonishing
group of young men dressed as Egyptians. They
were sitting in affectionate closeness, simpering and
tmeiing togcLher. On the other side they gradually
discerned an overwhelmingly fat, elderly woman hold-
ing a kmd of Court. She was almost enveloped in
pearls. Otherwise she was scantily hidden. Her feet
were m sandals. Several mere boys had arranged
themselves m picturesque attitudes about her and half
a dozen maidens were grouped round her chair One
was fanning her with a large yellow leaf. The blue
light under which Graham Iiad sat listening to the
whispered appeal of Ita Strabosck fell softly and
erotically upon them.
"Circe come to life," said Kenyoa
" Ugh! I don't quite know how Fm going to pre-
vent myself from being sick," said Peter.
" Ah ! but wait a bit," said Graham. " The show
hasn't begun yet."
It made a fairly good beginning as he spoke. The
girls in the circle of light brought their attitudinizing
to an end and their places were instantly taken by two
painted men in coloured loin-cloths. To a screaming
outburst of wild and incoherent music they gave what
seemed to Kenyon to be a perfect imitation of civet-
cats at play. They crawled ?Iong on all-fours, sprang
high into the air, crouched, bounded, whirled round
each other and finally, amid a roar of applause, rolled
out of view wrapped in each other's arms.
THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN
"Um!" said Kenyon. "After just such an ex-
hibition as that Rome burst into flames."
There was insistent demand for an encore. The
performance was repeated with the same gusto and
relish. The three men saw nothing of it. Just as the
band burst forth again, Kenyon made a long arm,
caught the skimpy covering of a girl who was passing
and drew her into the alcove.
" Come and cheer us up, Minutia," he said. " We
feel like lost souls here."
The girl was willing enough. It was her business
to cheer. She stood in front of them for a moment
so that the blue light should show her charms. She
looked very young and tiny. Fair hair was twisted
round her head. She wore nothing but a thin, loose
Egyptian smock, but her small snub nose and impu-
dent mouth placed her whatever might be her cos-
tume, on Broadway. "Say! Why are you muts
dressed like men?" she asked with eager interest.
" Oh, well," said Kenyon, " we happen to be men ;
but I swear that we won't advertise the fact."
The girl greatly enjoyed the remark, but her scream
of laughter was drowned by the band. Then she
caught sight of Graham. "Oh, hello, Kid! So
you've come back."
Graham n.ide room for her. He rather liked being
recognized. Kenyon would see that he knew his way
about. " Yes, htic T am again. It's difficult to get
the Papowsky dope out of the system."
" Don't see . hy you should t'-y. It's pretty good
dope, I guess." She snuggLa herself in between
THE CITY 213
Graham and Kenyon, putting an arm round each,
bhe bent across Kenyon to examine Peter and gave an
exaggeratedly dramatic cry of surprise and admira-
tion "My God! It's a giant! Say, dearie, you'd
be the Kmg of all the pussies, in a skin. All them
dinky httle love-birds would bop round vour feet and
chirp. Oh, gosh, you'd make some hit among the
artists, sure ! "
"Think so.'" said Peter. He would have given
a great deal for a pipe at that moment, so that he
could pufT out great clouds of smoke as a disinfect-
" A gala night," said Graham.
" Sure. If the police were to make a raid to-night
-gee, there'd be a fine list of names in to-morrer's
papers ! "
"Think they will?" asked Kenyon. "By Jove'
I wish they would. Think of seeing these people
=:uffling like frightened rabbits. It would be epoch-
The girl turned a keenly interested eye on Kenyon
and looked him over with unabashable deliberation
Youve got a funny kind of accent," she said.
VVhat is it? English?"
It was the first time that Kenyon had ever been
accused of speaking with an accent. He was de-
ighted. It appealed to his alert sense of humour.
1 le laughed and nodded.
'•The giant ain't English, is he? Are you
dearie ? " ■' '
" No," said Peter
214 THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN
"That's fine. I guess I don't like the English
much. They always strike me as being like Amer-
icans, trying hard to be different."
" You don't dislike me, I hope? That would be a
very bitter blow," said Kenyon, tweeking her ear.
•' Oh, you're a comic," she said. " You're all right.
Is this your first visit?"
"Yes Have you been here long? Kenyon
asked the question carelessly, as though to keep the
ball moving. It was, as a matter of fact, the begm-
ning of his plan to disillusion Graham.
•' Oh, I've been in the business ever since it started.
Ask the kid, he knows. Don't you, kid? "
" Rather," said Graham. _
" I used to be in the chorus, but this is ther life.
" 1 suppose so," said Kenyon. " Variety, gaiety,
art — what more can any girl desire ? "
"Dollars," she said dryly. "And I make more
here, by a long way."
" That's good. But,— but don't you get a little fed
up? I mean it must be hopelessly monotonous to be
shut up in one place all the time."
"Don't know whatcher mean. Translate that,
won't you ? " „ ■. r- u
" He means never getting out, said Graham.
" Never getting out! I don't get you, Steve. Me
and my sister get away after the show, same as any
"What'" Graham was incredulous. It struck
him that the girl was lying for reasons of loyalty to
her employer. He knew better.
"Oh, I see!" said Kcnyon, leading her on care-
fully. " You don't live here, then? "
"Live here? Of course I don't. I come about ten
o clock every night and leave anyuherf between tliree
and four in the morning. Earlier if there's nothing
"Oh, I thought that the girls here are — well,
held up, kept here all the time,— prisoners, so to
A shrill amused laugh rang out. "Oh, cut it out'
What's all this dope? Say! you've been reading
White Slave books. You're bug-house — dippy.
Why, this is a respectable place, this is. This is the
house of Art. We're models, that's what we are.
We're only here for local colour. If we choose to
make a bit extra on our own, we can." She laughed
again. It was a good joke. The best that she had
heard for years.
Kenyon threw a quick glance at Graham's face.
He could just see it in the dim light. The boy was
listening intently — incredulously. So also was
Peter, who had drawn himself into a corner and was
hunched up uncomfortably.
Kenyon began to feel excited. Everything was
going almost unbelievably well. The girl was so
frank, so open and obviously spontaneous. It was
excellent. " Of course you tell us these things," he
said, voicing what he knew was going silently through
Graham's mind. " But we know better. We know
that you, like that poor little girl, Ita Strabosck, are
watched and not allowed to q^tt away under any cir-
i ! !
216 THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN
cutnstances. Now, why not tell us the truth? We
may be able to help you escape, too."
Again she laughed. " Oh, say !" she said. What
are you anyway? Reporters on the trail of a story.
I'm telling you the truth. Why not? A^/°^It^'T
Oh ho! She put it all over a boob, she did. bhe s
ambitious, she is. She was out to find a mut wdiod
keep her, that was her game. She told us so from
the first We used to watch her trymg one after an-
other of the soft ones. But they were wise they
were But at last some little feller fell for her foreign
acent and little sobs. She had a fine tale all ready.
Oh, she's clever. She ought to be on the stage play-
ing parts. Most of us go round to her place in the
daytime and have a good time with some of her men
friends I've not been yet. But from what my sis-
ter says I wouldn't be a bit surprised if she gets her
man to marry her. From what she says, he's a senti-
mental Alick, and, O Gosh! won't she lead him some
dance!" ,. ,.
At last Graham broke forth, his face white, his eyes
blazing and his whole body shaking as though he ha.
ague. "You're lying!" he shouted. "Every word
y 've said's a lie!"
The girl entirely unofTended at this involuntary out-
burst bent forward and looked at Graham with a new
gleam of intelligence, amusement and curiosity.
" My word, I believe you're Mr. Strabosck. I bel,e^e
you're the boob. Oh, say! come into the light. 1
guess I must have a look at you."
Graham got up, stood swaying for a moment a.
THE CITY 217
though he had received a blow l3etween the eyes and
staggered across tlie room and out into the passage
Now he knows," said Kenyon. "Come on,
mer. We shall have our work cut to hold him in.
Ihere was blood in his eyes." Utterly ignoring the
g.rl, Kenyon „,adc for the door, forced his way
hrough new arrivals and found Graham utterly sober
but w.th h.s mouth set dangerously, standing in front
of the Japanese. " My hat and coat, (,uick ! " he was
saymg, "or I'll break the place up."
" Steady, steady," said Kenyon. " We don't want
a scene here.
brelk '^"^ ^^ *^'"""''^' ^ "'" ^■°" '°"«l""g'« got to
The Japanese ducked into the coat-room
" ^Vhere's Peter? " Graham looked back expecting
to see his brother's head and shoulders above the
crowd. There was no sign of him.
By accident the ' me-light which had been suddenly
turned on for a new performance fell on Peter as he
was marching towards the door of the studio In-
stantly he found himself surrounded bv half a dozen
good-natured men who had all taken a 'little too much
tr. drmk. They, like the other people present, were in
f.gyptian clothes and obviously glad to see in Peter
a healthy normal specimen of humanity.
"Oh, hello, brother, where are you off to?" asked
" Out ! " said Peter shortly.
"I'll be darned if you are. Come and have a
2i8 THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN
" No, thanks, I've other things to do."
" Oh, rot! Be a sport and stay and help us to stir
things up. Come on. now ! "
Peter tried to push his way through. " Please get
out of the way," he said.
But a jovial red-headed fcl'ow got into it.
" You're staying, if I have to mal<e you."
Something snappe.l in Peter's brain. Before he
could control himself he bent down and picked up the
man bv the scruff of his neck and the cloth that was
wound round his middle and heaved him over the heads
of the crowd into a divan, and then hitting out right
and left rle .-1 a path to the door, leaving chaos and
bleeding noses behind iiim. Without waiting to ^'ct
his hat and coat he made a dash for the elevator,
caught it just as it was about to des.^end and went
down to the main floor dishevelled and panting.
Out in the street he saw Kenyon trying to put
Graham into a taxicab. Kenyon saw him and called
out. " Come on, or Papowsky will make it hot for
us." . , , .
On hir way home from a late evening at one of his
clubs, Ranken Townsend caught the name Papowsky,
whose evil reputation had come to his ears. He
threw a quick glance at the men who were leaving her
place and saw that one of them was Peter. He drew
up and stoo<l in front of the man in whom he thought
he had recognized cleanness and excellence and told
himself that he was utterly mistaken.
" So this was your precious business engagement,
he said, with icy comempt. " Well, I don't give my
daughter to a man who shares her u-ith women like
1 apowsky, so you may consider yourself free. Good
And the smile that turned up the corners of Ken-
yon s mouth had in it the epitome of triumph. All
along the hne I,e had won. All along the line
Peter watched the tall .lisappearin^ figure. He felt
as though he had been kicked in the mouth.
That night was one of the most extraordinary that
Peter ever spent. Although he was smarting under
the terrible mjustice of Ranken Townsend's few but
very definite words, and felt like a man who had sud-
denly come up to an abyss, he took Graham in hand
and devoted himself, with all the tenderness of a
woman, to this poor boy.
All the way home in the cab Graham had been more
or less held down by Kenyon and his brother. His
brain was in a wild chaos. The realization that he
had been tricked and made a fool of hit him hard In
his first great .<ush of anger he was filled with an over-
whelming desire to go to the apartment in which he
had placed Ita Strabosck and smash it up. He wanted
to have the satisfaction of breaking and ripping apart
every piece of furniture that he had bought to make
he- comfortable and happy, and make an absolute
shambles of the place. He wanted also to order that
gill lit into the street. At that moment he no longer
cared what happened to her or where she went. His
vanity had received its first rude shock. All the way
home he shouted at the top of his voice and struggled
to get away from the men who were looking after
him. It took all Peter's strength to hold him tight
It was by no means a good sight to see this young
224 THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN
man, who only half an hour before had been exhila-
rated by champagne and the feeling that he was really
of some account as a man of the world, reduced to a
condition of utter weariness by his violent outbursts.
At first he absolutely refused to enter the house and
insisted upon walking up and down the street. Fi-
nally, by making an appeal to his brother's affection,
Peter persuaded him to go in quietly and up to his
own room. There, pale and exhausted and entirely
out of spirits, Graham turned quickly on his brother.
" Keep Kenyon out," he said. " For God's sake, keep
Kenyonout! I want yow."
Kenyon heard these words and smiled to himself,
nodded to Peter, and went downstairs again to make
himself comfortable in the library and have a final
cigarette before going to bed. He had every reason
for self -congratulation. Graham was free,— there
was no doubt about that,— and it looked as though
Peter also would now be able to be made useful again.
Luck certainly had been on his side that night.
It was not much after one o'clock when Peter shut
the door of Graham's bed-roo.n. From then on-
wards he turned himself into a sort of nurse, doing
his best to concentrate all his thoughts on his broth-
er's trouble and keep his own until such time as he
could deal with it; and, while Graham poured out his
heart -going over his story of the Ita Strabosck
rescue again and again - Peter quietly undressed h.m,
bit by bit. " Yes, old man," he kept saying, " I quite
understand; but what you've got to do now is to get
to bed and to sleep. Let me take oflf your coat.
That's right. Now sit down for a second. Now let
me undo your shoes. Ifs a jolly good thing I came
home \ou bet your life I'll stand by you and see
you through — you bet your life I will! "
" And you swear you'll not say anything about this
to mother or Belle, and especially father -even if
1 m 111,— m fact to any one ? You swear it ? "
' Of course," said Peter.
There was something comical as well as pathetic in
the s.ght of this big fellow playing the woman to th's
distraught boy,- undoing his tie, ta':ing off his collar
and gradually getting him ready for bed. It was a
long and difficult process and needed consummate tact
tender firmness and quiet determination. A hundred
times Graham would spring to his feet and -with
one shoe on and one shoe off, minus coat and waist-
coat, tie and collar -pace the room from end to end
gesticulating wildly, sending out a torrent of words in
a hoarse whisper — sometimes almo'^t on the verge
of fears He was only twenty-four - not much more
than a boy. It was very hard luck that he should be
"P against so sordid a slice of life at a time when he
stood at the beginning of everything.
But Peter knew intuitively that it was absol-itely
necessary for Graham to rid his svstem of this Stra-
bosck poison and empty out his heart and soul before
he could be put to sleep. like a tired child. And so
with the utmost patience, he subjected himself to play
the part of a mental as well as a physical nurse Bet-
ter than that, he mothered his brother, smoothed him
down, sympathized with him, assured him again and
236 THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN
again that he had done the only possible thing; and
finally as the first touch of dawn crept into the room
had the infinite satisfaction of putting the clothes
about his brother's shoulders and seeing his dark head
buried in his pillow. Even then he was not wholly
satisfied. Creeping upon tip-toe about the room he
laid hands on Grab" /s razors and put them m his
pocket. He was possessed with a sort of terror that
the boy might wake up and, acting under a strong
revulsion of feeling, cut his throat. It must be
remembered that he had watched a human being under
the strain and stress of a very strong and terrible emo-
tion and he was naturally afraid. He knew his broth-
er's excitable temperament. He had heard him
confess that the girl had exercised over him something
more than mere physical attraction, and although he
was no psychologist it was easy for him to see that,
for a time at any rate, Graham was just as ready to
hurt himself as to hurt the girl. Some one had to be
paid out for his suffering and it was Peter's business
to see that his brother, at any rate, escaped punish-
ment. Not content with having got Graham to bed
and to sleep and secured the razors which might be
used in a moment of impetuousness, Peter stayed on,
sat down near the bed and listened to one after an-
other of the sounds of the great city's awakening. It
was then that he permitted himself to think back. He
didn't remember the fracas in the studio apartment or
the unpleasantness of the place with the unhealthy, un-
pleasant creatures who had been there. He repeated
to himself over and over again the words — the cold,
cruel words of Ranken Townsend,— " So *his was
your precious business engagement. Well, I don't
give my daughter to a man who shares her with
women like Papowsky, so you may consider your-
self free." In his mind's eye he could see the tall
artist march away. He felt again as though he had
been kicked in the mouth.
Ranken Townsend had arranged a sitting with
Madame iMascheri, the famous opera singer, at eleven
o'clock. He entered his studio at ten, and the first
thing he did was to ring up one of his best friends and
get into a quarrel with him. He had already so sur-
prised his old servant at breakfast that she had retired
to the kitchen in tears. He was angry and sore and
there was likely to be a nice clash in the studio when
he said sharp things to the spoiled lady who consid-
ered that all men were in their proper places only when
they were at her feet.
Ranken Townsend was more than angry. He was
disappointed — mentally sick — completely out of gear.
He had seen Peter Guthrie — and there was no argu-
ment about the fact — come out of a notorious house,
dishevelled and apparently drunk. It was a sad blow
to him. A bad shock. The effects of it had kept him
awake nearly all night. Betty was the apple of his
eye. He was going to protect her at all costs, and he
knew that in doing so he must bring great unhappi-
228 THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN
ness into her life. He had believed in Peter Guthrie.
He had seemed to him to be a big, strong, clean, hon-
est, simple, true fellow who had gone straight and who
meant to continue to go straight. It meant a tre-
mendous amount, an altogether incalculable amount
to him as a father to have found that his estimate was
wrong. He realized perfectly wcil that his words had
been harsh the night before, lie detested to have
been obliged to say them; but, for the sake of his little
girl, he was not going back on them. The evidence
was too strong.
The telephone bell rang. He stalked across to it.
"Well?" he said. "What's that? Who did you
say? Send him up at once." And then, with his
jaw set and his hands thrust deep into his pockets,
he took up a stand in the middle of the studio and
It was Peter. He came in quietly and looked very
tired. " Good morning, Mr. Townsend," he said.
The answer was sharp and antagonistic. " I don't
agree with you."
Peter put down his hat and stick, went up to the
artist and stood in front of him squarely and without
fear. " You're going to withdraw what you said last
"You think so?"
" Because it was unjust and no man is hanged ni
these times before he's given a chance to defend hmi-
"No one is going to hang you, Peter Gutiirie.
You'vt hanged yourself."
" No, no," said Peter, " that won't do. It isn't liiie
you to adopt tliis attitude and I must ask you to treat
Townsend shot out a short laugh. "There's no
need for you to ask me to do that. My treatment of
you is going to he so proper that this is going to be
the last time you'll come into this studio. I've done
with you. So far as I'm concerned you're over.
Betty isn't going to see you or hear from you again.
I consider that it was a mighty good accident that took
me into Fortieth Street last night. That's all I have
Peter didn't budge. He just squared his shoulders
and tilted his chin a little more. " I don't think that's
all you've got to say," he said. " I quite understand
that you had a bad shock when you saw me coming
out of that place last night. If I were in your shoes
I should say just what you're saying now."
" It's something to win your approval," said Town-
send, sarcastically, "and I'm sure I'm very much
obliged to you for coming down town to give me your
" Oh, don't talk like that," said Peter. " It doesn't
do any good and it doesn't help to clear things up."
"You can't clear things up. Neither of us can.
You began by lying to me when you said you had a
business engagement, and you wound up by coming
out drunk of the rottenest house in this city. And,
see here! I don't like your tone. I'm not standing
230 THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN
here to be reproved by you for my attitude in this tnat-
ter. I might be more inclined to give you a chance if
you made a clean breast of it."
"I wish I could," said Peter, "but I can't. All I
can tell you is that I had to go to that phce last night
for a very fe -od reason. I'd never been there before
and I shall never go there again. I hadn't even heard
of the place until a few days ago. You've got to
accept my word of honour that I went there with a
friend of mine to get a man who means a very great
deal to me out of bad trouble." _
" It's taken you sometime to think that out," said
Peter winced as if he had been struck. He had
gone to the studio under the belief that everything
would be quite easy. He was honest. His conscience
was clear. He was not a liar. Surely his word
would be accepted. Whatever happened he wasn't
going to be disloyal to his brother. Apart from the
fact that he had sworn not to give Graham away, he
wasn't the kind that blabbed. He tried again, still
keeping himself well under control, although he was
unable to hide the fact that Ranken Townsend's utter
disbelief 'n him hurt deeply.
" Mr. Townsend," he said, " I don't want to do any-
thing to make you more angry than you are. It's per-
fectly simple for you to say that you won't have me
marry Betty. But remember this: I've only got to
go to Betty and ask her to marry me, with or without
your consent, and she will. If you don't believe me,
you don't know Betty."
" Ah ! but tliat's exactly where you make your mis-
take," said Townsend. " I do know Betty. And let
me tell you this, Peter Guthrie: My girl has been
brought up. She hasn't been dragged rp or allowed
to bring herself up. The consequence is that she's
not among the army of present-day girls who look
upon their fathers and mothers as any old trash to
be swept aside and over-ridden whenever it suits them
to do so. I'm the man to whom she owes all the hap-
piness and comfort that she's known. I'm the man
who's proud to be responsible for her, to whom she
belongs and who knov\s a wide stretch more of life
and its troubles than she does,— and, not being an
empty-headed, individualistic, precocious little fool,
she knows it too. She belongs to a past decade — to
an old-fashioned family. Therefore, what I say goes;
and if I tell her that, for a \ery good reason, I don't
want her to ha\e anything to do with you, she will
be desperately unhappy, but she'll not question my
authority or my right to say so. These are facts, how-
ever absurd and strange they may appear to you. I
think it would be a damned good thing if other fathers
took the trouble to get on the same footing with their
daughters. There'd be less unhappiness and fewer
grave mistakes if they did." He was almost on the
verge of adding, " Look at your sister Belle if you
don't believe me."
Peter had nothing to say.
The two men stood facing one another, gravely, in
silence. They were both moved and stirred. And
then Peter nodded. " I'm glad you're Betty's father,"
232 THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN
he said at last. " She owes you more than she can
ever pay back. I give you my word that I shan t
attempt to dispute your authority. I ■•« P^^*/""'.'^;^^
Townsend, and when I marry Betty I want to naNc
your consent and approval. I also gne you my word
that it was absolutely necessary for me to go to Ha-
powsky's last night, without any_ explanation what-
ever. Are you going to take it? "
"No" said Townsend; "I'm not. Even if Id
known you for years what you ask is too -"ch f°r me
to swallow. Good Lord, man! can t you see that Im
protecting my daughter - the one person I love m this
Sd - the one person whose happiness means more
I me than anything on earth? ^Vhy should I behe e
that you're different from other young men,- the
average young man whom I see every day. who no
l^;e cares about going clean to the won,an he ,s gomg
to marry than he does for runnmg straight r rwards^
I don't know you and hitherto I've accer' d you on
your face value. When it comes to the luesfon of
I man's trusting his daughter to the first person who
com'-s and asks him for her, he's got to be pretty sue
of what he's doing. In any case, I don't hold with
the cJd saying tha'. 'young men will be young men.
You may sow your wild oats if you like, but hey re
not gll .0 blossom in the garden of a bttle girl who
ElSgs to me. In that respect I'm as narrow-mmde
7s a Quaker. And let me tell you this final y. I
know?he sort of place that Papowsky's is. I know
what goes on there and the sort of people who fre
quent it. To my mind any man who's seen coming
out of It docs for himself as the future husband of
any good girl. If you have, as you say. a good reason
for going there, tell it to me. If not, get out."
The artist had said these things witli intense feel-
ing. Hard as they were, Peter had to acknowledge
that they were right. Just for one instant he wav-
ered. He was on the point of giving the whole story
away. Then his loyalty to his brother came back to
him. He would rather be shot than go back on the
man who had trusted him and with wlio.n he had
grown up with such deep affection. " Very well, ' he
said, " that settles it. I've nothing more to say. But
one of these days I'll prove that my word of honor
was worth taking. In the meantime, you can't stop
me from loving Betty and you'll never be able to stop
Betty from loving me."
He turned on his heel, took up his hat and stick
and went out.
Graham was sitting up in bed when Peter returned
to his room. He was looking about him with an ex-
pression of queer surprise,— puzzled apparently to
find himself in his room.
"Oh, hello, old man!" said Peter. "How d'you
Graham put his hand up to his head. "I don't
know yet. Have I been asleep? I thought I'd been
m a railway accident. I was looking about for the
broken girders and the ghastly signs of a smash."
' < 'I
234 THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN
He got slowly out of bed. put on his slippers atid
walked up and down for a few minutes with a heavy
frown on his face. The emotion of the night before
had left its marks. He stopped in front of a chair
on the back of which his evening -lothes were hang-
ing neatly. He rememlxred that he had thrown them
off He noticed — at iu^t with irritation — that the
things on his dressing-table had been re-arranged —
tampered with. It didn't look as he liked it to look.
Something had been taken away. It dawned on him
that dl his razors had been removed. " Removed,
-the word sent a sort of electric shock through his
brain as it passed through. He went over to the win-
dow and looked out into the street. The sun glorified
everything with its wonderful touch. Good God!
To think that he might be standing at that very mo-
ment on the other side of the great veil.
" I don't know — I don't know what to say to you
for all this, Peter," he said.
Peter sat down, thrust his hands into his pockets
and his long legs out in front of him. Reaction had
set in He feh depressed and wretched. "One of
these days," he said, " I may ask you to do the same
thing for me."
Something in his tone made Graham turn round
sharply. " What's wrong? "
" Everything's wrong," said Peter. But 1 11 tell
you some other time. Your affair has got to be set-
tled first." ^^ ^ . . ^
" No; teU me now," said Graham. He dreaded to
feel that he was the cause somehow or other of bring-
ing trouble upon his brother. Never before in all his
life had he seen I'eter looking like that.
" Mr. Townsend happened to be passing Papi > -! . s
last night and s-nv me coming out. I'd had a .scrap
up in the studio with a bunch of men who were half
drunk. I must have looked like it. He told me tliat
he wouldn't have me marry Betty, and he repeated it
this morning. I've just come away from his place.
That's what's the matter with me."
curse me!" cried Graham. "Curse me for
Peter sprang to his feet. " Don't start worrying
about me. And look here; don't let's waste time in
trying to scrape up spilt milk. I'm going to marry
Betty, that's a dead certainty, and sooner or later Mr.
Townsend will withdraw the brutal things he said to
me. And you're going to wipe your slate clean, right
away. So buck up and get busy, old man. Have
your bath and get dressed as soon as you can. I'm
going to help you to fix your affair as soon as you're
" How ? " asked Graham.
" I don't know quite. I think I'll ask Kenyon."
" No, don't. Let's do it together. I don't want
Kenyon to see, — I mean I'd rather Kenyon was out
of it. I'd rather that you were the only one to look
on at the remainder of my humiliation, — that's the
word. He knows quite enough as it is."
"All right!" said Peter. "Hurry up, then.
We'll go round to the apartment and see Ita Stra-
bosck. I cashed a cheque on the way back from Mr.
236 THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN
Townsend's. We can't let her go out into the street
with nothing in her pocket,— that's impossible."
Graham nodded. He couldn't find words to say
what he felt about it all. There was a look of acute
pain on his pale face as he went into the bath-room.
And then Peter sat down at his brother's table and
wrote a little note to Betty :
" My own dearest Baby : _
" Something has happened and your father — who s a
fine fellow and well worthy of you — believes that I'm
such a rotter that he's told me to consider myself
scratched. I'm going to play the game by him for your
sake as well as his. Don't worry about it. Leave every-
thing to me. I won't ask you to go on lovmg me and be-
lieving in me, because that you must do, just as I shall go
on loving you and believing in you. It has to be. I've
got to think things over to see what can be done.
" In the meantime, and as long as I live,
" Your Peter."
He addressed the letter and put the envelope in his
pocket. Then he went to the bath-room and called
out: "Old man, shall I have some breakfast sent up
for you ? " The answer was, " No ; the sight of food
would make me sick."
Graham dressed quickly and nothing more was said
by either of the brothers until they went out into the
" We'll get a cab," said Peter.
" No ; I'm too broke. Let's walk."
And so they walked hard, arm in arm. It seemed
rather an insult to Graham that the day was so fine,
the sky so blue and equable and that all the passers-by
seemed to be going on their way untroubled. He'd
have been better pleased if the day had been dark and
ugly and if everybody had been hurrying through rain
and sleet. His own mind was disturbed by a storm
of the most unpleasant thoughts. The girl whom
they were on their way to see had exercised a strong
physical fascination over him. He had believed in
her absolutely. She had meant a great deal to him.
Her deceit and cunning selfishness brought pessimism
mto his soul. It was a bad feeling.
As they came up to the house with its shabby door
a man w.!l-past middle age.- a flabby, vulgar person,'
with thick awkwar- legs.- left it rather quickly and
walked in the opposite direction. The two boys went
m and Peter led the way up the dark staircase. The
door was open and Lily, the colored maid, was hold-
mg a shrill argument with a man with a basket full of
empty siphons on his arm. Her face broke into an
odd and knowing smile when she saw Graham They
passed her without a word and went along the passage
into the sming-room. It was empty, but in a hideous
state of disorder. There was about it all that last
night look which is so unpleasant and insalubrious.
I he windows had not been opened and the room
reeked with stale tobacco smoke and beer Cigar
stumps lay like dead snails on the carpet. Empty
bottles were everywhere and dirty glasses. Through
the half-open door which le<I into the bed-room they
heard a flutey. uncertain soprano voice singing a curi-
ous foreign song.
238 THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN
After a moment of weakness and indecision,
Graham pulled himself together and called out: " Ita!
Ita ! " sharply.
The song ceased abruptly. There was a cry of well-
simulated joy and the girl, with her hair frowzled and
a thin dressing-gown over her night-dress, ran into
the room with naked feet. She drew up short when
she saw the expression on Graham's face and Peter's
square shoulders behind him. " Somesing ees ze mat-
ter," she said. "Oh, tell me!" Second nature and
constant practice made the girl begin to act. This was
obviously an opportunity for being dramatic.
With a huge effort Graham controlled himself.
" I'm giving up this apartment to-day," he said.
" You are giving up ? "
" I said so."
"And what ees to become of me? You take me
somewhere else ? "
" No. I hope I shall never see you again —
never I "
The girl burst forth. How well he knew that
piteous gesture — that pleading voice — the tears that
came into those large almond eyes,— all those tricks
which had made him what he had been called the night
before at Papowsky's — " a boob." "What 'ave I
done? Do you not love me any more? I love you.
I will die for you. You are everysing to me. Do not
leave me to ze mercy of ze world. Graham!
Graham! My saviour! I love you zo!"
Graham shook her off. " Please don't," he said.
" Just pack your things and dress yoarself. All I've
got to say to you is that I've found you out. Perhaps
you'd better go back to Papowsky's. You're very
clever,— they all say so there. Find another damned
young fool — that'll be easy."
The girl suddenly threw back her head and broke
into an amazing laugh. The sound of it,— so merry
— so full of a sort of elfin amusement, — was as start-
ling to the two boys as though a bomb had been
dropped into the room. "I could not find such a
damned fool as you," she said loudly and coarsely,
" eef I 'unted the earth. Eef you 'ad waited to come
until to-night you would 'ave found zis little nest
empty and ze bird flown. There ees a better boob zan
you. Perhaps you met 'im going out. 'E marries
me to-morrow. I vas to keep zat for a leetle surprise.
Oh, yes, I am clever, and eet kills me with laughing
to zee you stand there like a scliool teacher. You
turnover anew leaf now, eh? Zat ees good. Zo do
I. To-morrow I am a wife. I marry a man. My
time with babies ees over."
She picked up a glass that was half-full of beer and
with a gesture of supreme contempt jerked it into
Graham's face. Then, with the quickness of an eel,
she returned to her bedroom and slammed the door.'
They heard her laughing uncontrollably.
Graham wiped his face with his handkerchief, and
dropped it on the floor with a shiver. " I shan't want
to borrow any money from you, Peter," he said in a
low voice. " Let's go."
And they went out into the street together — into
the sun, and took a long breath of relief — a long,
I' ■ '■.1'
240 THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN
clean breath, untainted by stale tobacco smoke and
beer and the pungent scent of Ita Strabosck.
Peter made no attempt to put into words his intense
sympathy, but he took his brother's arm and held it
tight, and Graham was very grateful. Right out of
the very bottom of his heart two tears welled up into
his eyes as he walked away.
After all, he was only twenty-four.
' 1 ,
On her way up to her room that night, Ethel drew
up short outside Graham's bedroom door. She knew
that he was in, which was in itself unusual. She
thought there must be something the matter, because
she had seen Graham leave the house in the morning
long after his usual time. She had also watched his
face at dinner and had seen in it something that fright-
ened her. It was true that Peter was her favorite
brother, but she was very fond of and had great ad-
miration for Graham. Also she, herself, was in trouble.
Trouble seemed to be an epidemic in that family. Her
Knight Errant next door, in spite of her signalling and
the fact that she had laid out as usual the cigarettes
and the candie;;, had deserted her. In order to receive
his visits and feed herself on the excitement with which
they provided her, she was still maintaining her pre-
tence of invalidism, and the worst of it was she now
knew that she had grown to be very fond of the boy,
who at first had only been a source of amusement.
So, with a fellow-feeling for Graham, she listened
outside his door. She wanted very badly to slip in
and give her sympathy to her brother and receive some
of It from him. She didn't feel quite as individual-
istic as usual. The artificiality of the flapper left her
for the time being and she felt as young as she really
was and rather helpless, and awfully lonely.
Hearing nothing, she tapped gently on the door
opened it and went in. Graham was sitting in an arm-
chair with his elbows on his knees and his head be-
tween his hands. He made a picture of wretched-
ness which would have melted the heart of a sphinx.
Ethel went over to him and put her hand on his
shoulder. "Is anything the matter, Hammie?" she
asked, using the nickname that she had given him as
Graham didn't look up. " Oh, Lord, no ! " he said,
with a touch of impatience. " What should be the
matter? •• But he was very glad to feel that touch of
friendliness on his shoulders.
" Can I do anything for you ? "
" Oh, no. I'm all right — as right as rain."
Ethel knew better. She knew also that slie would
have said those very things to Belle if she had been
cauglit in a similar state of depression. So she sat
down on the arm of Graham's chair and put her hand
against his cheek. " I've got about a hundred and
seventy-five dollars, if that's any good to you," she
Graham gave a scoffing laugh, but all the same he
was very grateful for the offer. " My dear kid." he
242 THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN
said, " a hundred and seventy-five dollars — that's no
better than a dry bone to a hungry man."
" Is it as bad as all that, Hammie? "
" Yes, and then some."
Ethel thought deeply for a few minutes. Her char-
acteristic selfishness, which had been almost tenderly
encouraged at school, had given way temporarily be-
fore her own disappointment. " Well," she said
finally, " I've got four brooches and five rings, a watch
and a dressing-case. You can sell them all if you
Then Graham turned round, gave his little sister
one short, affectionate look and put his head down on
her shoulder. " Don't say anything, please," he said.
"Just let me stay here for a minute. It does me
And he stayed there for many minutes, and the two
sat silently and quietly, getting from each other in their
mutual trouble the necessary help which both needed
so much. A strange, new feeling of motherliness stole
over the girl. It surprised her. It was almost like
being in church on Christmas Eve, or listening to the
most beautiful melody.
It was a long time since these two had taken the
trouble to meet each other half-way. The thoughts of
both went back to those good hours when Graham had
put his little sister on a sled in front of him and pushed
her, laughing merrily, over the hard snow in the park.
He had never even dreamed in those days of money
and the fever that it brings, or women and the pain
And then Graham got up, just a little ashamed of
himself, — after all, he was now a man of the world, —
and saw that Ethel's cheeks were wet with tears. It
was his turn to try and help. " Good Lord ! " he said.
" You don't mean to say that you're worried about
anything. What is it ? "
She shook her head and turned her face away.
"Oh, nothing — nothing at all."
All the same she felt much, ever so much better for
the kiss that he gave her, and went along to her own
room half-determined to be honest with herself and
go back to school the next day. She was rather
startled to find the smell of cigarette smoke in her
bedroom, which was in darkness. She turned up the
nearest light and almost gave a cry of joy when she
found the boy from next door sitting on the window-
"Jack!" she cried. "I thought you were — I
thought you had "
Jack threw his cigarette out of the window and got
up awkwardly. " I got your note just now," he said,
" and so I've come."
Ethel went to the door and locked it. All the clouds
had rolled away. She was very happy. She had evi-
dently made a mistake. He must have been prevented
from coming. She wished he'd given her time to
powder her nose and arrange the curls about her ears.
As it was, she opened the box of cigarettes and held
out the candies to him.
" No, thanks," said Jack. " I'm off chocolates and
I've knocked off smoking to a great extent."
""I ! ;
244 THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN
With a womanly touch which she and all women
have inherited from Eve, who never forgot to stand
with her back to the sun and took care, if possible,
to remain in the woods until after breakfast, Ethel
turned on a shaded light and switched off the strong
overhead glare which made her look every day of her
fifteen years. Then she sat down with the light over
her left shoulder. She was quite herself again. All
was well with the world.
"Where have you been?" she asked, a little im-
" Nowhere," said Jack.
" Then why haven't you been to see me ? I have
signalled every night. I can't understand it."
" I know you can't. That's why I've stayed away."
Ethel was puzzled at the boy's solemn tone. " Of
course, if you don't want to come, please don't. I
wouldn't drag you here against your will for any-
" Yes, but I do want to come. I '■-tay away for
your sake, and I'm not coming again after this even-
That was exactly what Ethel wanted to hear. She'd
been afraid that Jack had found some one else. Now
she knew differently. "Don't be silly," "'^e said.
" Have a cigarette. Come and sit on the i and
don't Icf -5 waste time."
But Jack didn't move. He had gone back to the
windowsill and remained hunched up on the narrow
ledge, holding on with both hands. " I'm off in a
minute," he said. " I'm ju.st going to tell you one or
Would you like to hear
two things before I go.
them ? "
"If they're pleasant," she said.
" Well, they're not pleasant."
" Well, then, tell me."
For a moment or two Jack remained silent. Per-
haps he was trying to find careful words into which to
put his thoughts. When finally he spoke it was with
a suppressed emotion that sent a quiver through the
quiet room. " I can't stand coming here," he said.
" I can't stand it. I don't know what you are —
whether you're a mere baby who knows nothing or
an absolute little rotter. You tell me I can say what
I thmk, so I'm going to." He got up and went a little
nearer to the sofa. " What d'you think I'm made
of? Look at yourself in the glass and then see
whether you're the sort of a girl who can let a man
mto her bedroom night after night for nothing I
tell you I can't stand it. I stayed away, not because
I wanted to, but because I didn't want to do you any
harm. I was a fool for coming here at all. If I
didn't believe that you are simply a silly girl I'd stay
to-night and come every night as I used to do, but
I'm going to give you the benefit of the doubt. Next
time you signal to a man take care to find out what
he's^ made of and be a bit more careful. There, now
you've got it. Good night and good-bye. I've a
darned good mind to put the note you sent me to-night
in an envelope and address it to your mother. It
would save some other fellow from a good deal of
unnecessary discomfort. I'm frightfully sorry to be
■ ■ fv
246 THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN
so brutal, but I dor.'t believe you know what you're
(luing. Perhaps this'll be a lesson to you."
He turned quickly, swung himself out, went up the
rope ladder hand over hand and drew it up after him.
Ethel closed her eyes and sat rigid. The boy might
have planted his fist in her face.
' , !i
Kenyon had taken Mrs. Guthrie and Belle to the
Thirty-ninth Street Theatre that night. A quiet little
romantic play, quite unpretentiously written, had
found its way to that theatre either by accident or as
a stop-gap. The manager who put it there had ar-
ranged, even before the opening performance, to re-
place it at the end of the week with something which
had a punch, — a coarse, vulgar, artificial piece of
mechanism such as he had been in the habit of pro-
ducing all of his managerial life. His intention to
do this was strengthened by the press notices, which
all agreed that the new piece was a very little play
about nothing in particular and which made too great
a demand upon the imagination of its audience. That
last remark of the critics was worth a million dollars
to the play's author. The theatre remained almost
empty until the Friday night of its first — and if the
manager had anything to do with it — only week. The
scenery for the new production was already stacked
on the stage. But to the amazement of all concerned,
except the author, the theatre did business. The house
was almost full and the box office was so busy that
the young man who looked after it,— a past-master
in rudeness,— became quite querulous. On Saturday
night there was a full house and the Iwoking was so
big for the following week that the notices of with-
drawal were taken down and the play with a punch
had to find another home. The manager, greatly put
out, watclied this little play sail into a big, steady suc-
cess, and whenever his numerous acquaintances — he
had no friends — caught him in an unbusy moment,
he would say : " I can't make it out. It beats me.
Look at the notices. I couldn't understand a word of
the thing when I read it. I onl> put it into the theatre
to keep it warm. My word, f don't know what the
public wants." He didn't, and he never would. But
the author knew. He had made a play which appealed
to the imagination of his audience.
Peter had watched the party go to the theatre after
an early dinner; had seen Graham go up to his room
and his father drive away to a meeting at the Academy
of Medicine; and then, anxious to be alone and think
things over, he too left the house for a long, hard
tramp. He went into the park and walked round and
round the reservoir. The night was fine and clear,
and up in the sky, which was pitted with stars, a yoi .g
moon lay on her back. From all sides the music of
traffic came to his ears in a never-ceasing refrain, and
high up he could see the numerous electric signs which
came and went with steady precision and monotony.
Every now and then he caught sight of the Plaza,
whose windows all seemed to be alight. It gave a
"( Tf )(
1 '■-, d
248 THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN
peculiar touch of fantasy to that side of the
Peter found himself thinking of some of the things
which Ranken Townsend had said to him. Without
bitterness, and certainly without anger, lie began to
see something in the artist's bluntness which gradually
made him long, with a sort of boyish anguish, to go
in to his own father. The more he thought about
this the more it seemed to him right and necessary and
urgent to beard the Doctor in his den and break down
the curious barrier which shyness had erected between
him and his children. He realized at that moment
that he stood desperately in need of a father's help
and advice. It was quite obvious to him also that
Graham needed these things even more than he did.
If only they could both go to that wise and good man
who stood aloof and get something more from him
than the mere money with which he was so generous.
He knew — no one bettw — that he always received
from his mother the most tender sympathy, but how
could he discuss with her some of the things with
which he was faced since the Ita Strabosck episode
hail come into his life? Kenyon had done much to
make it plain to him that it was not good to continue
to walk in blank ignorance of the vital facts with whieli
his father dealt daily. He was a man and he had to
live in the world. His boyish days among boys were
over. They belonged to the past.
It was borne in upon him as he went round and
round the wide stretch of placid water in which was
reflected the moon and stars, that his father should
know all about Graham. Certain things that Kenyon
had said stuck to his mind like burrs. If he could
persuade Graham to make a clean breast of it to the
Doctor, the brother who meant so much to him might
be saved from a disaster wli.i.!i would not merely af-
fect himself, but others, — a wife and chihiren per-
haps. Kenyon had hinted at this and the hint was
growing in Peter's mird iil-e an abscess. It was time
that he and his brother lac ! facts ard knew them.
Who could initiate tlicin better than Jic distinguished
doctor whose life had bctii (U\oted to such serious
Having brought himself up to this poii t and being
also tremendously anxious to tell his fa:her of the
position in which he stood with ^W. Towtisend, Peter
determined to strike while the iron was hot — to go
home and see his father at once. He lelt he park
quickly, and when finally he let hini.self into the house
was astonished to see how late it was. The servant
told him tliat his mother and sister had come back
from the theatre and had gone to bed. " Mr. Ken-
yon," he added, " came back, but went out again at
once. Mr. Graham went to bed early and the Doctor
has not returned yet."
" Good ! " thought Peter. " Then I'll wait for
him." He gave up his hat and stick, went through
the quiet, dimly lit library, and after a moment's hesi-
tation opened the door of the Blue Room, — that room
in which he had been so seldom, hitherto only under
protest. He had opened the door quietly and was
astonished to see Graham sitting at his father's desk
! • i
i4 !' K
250 THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN
with the light from a reading lamp shining on his dark
head. "By Jove, Graham!" he said. "You must
have been thinking my thoughts. This is extraor-
Graham looked up with a start and thrust some-
thing under the blotting-pad. His face went as white
as a sheet and he stammered a few incoherent words.
Quite unconscious of his brother's curious embar-
rassment, Peter sat on the corner of the desk. " I've
had it out with myself to-night," he said, going, as
he always did, straight to the point. " I've made up
my mind to make father into a father from now on-
wards. I can't stand this detached business any
longer. Let's both wait for him and have it out."
"What d'you mean?" as' , ' Graham. "1 don't
get you." He put liis hand out surreptitiously and
scrunched up one of the sheets of note paper oti which
he had been writing.
" Listen i " said Peter, with intense earnestness.
" I've got to know things. So have you. I've got
to have advice. I've got to l)e treated as a human be-
ing. \Vh.at's the good of our having a father at all
if we don't get something from him? I don't mean
money and a roof, clothes and things to eat. I mean
help. I'm in a hole about Iktty. I want to talk
about my work — about my future. Graham, lot's
give fatlicr a chance. Many times he seems to me t(.
have fumbled anil been on the point of asking us t"
meet him half-way. Well. I'm going to do .so. St.i\
here and let's both see it through. Have the phuU
to tell him about your trouble and throw the whole
responsibility on him. It's his and he ought to have
it. Wait a second. Listen! If Ranken Townsend
had been your father you never would have gone near
Papo\vsi<y. You woulihi't have come witliin a thou-
sand miles of Ita Strabosck — that's a certainty."
Graham got up quickly, but kept his hand heavily
on the blotting-pad. '• Xo," he said almost hysteri-
cally. " Count me out. I'm not in tliis. It's no good
our trying to alter father at this time of day — it's too
late. He's microbe mad. He knows nothing what-
ever about sons and daughters. I could no more tell
him about the mess I'm in than fly over the moon.
He'd turn and curse nie — that's all he'd do. He'd
get up and preach, or something. He doesn't under-
stand anything about life. I'd a jolly sight rather
go to mother, only I know it would hurt her so, and
anyway my story isn't fit for her ears. No ; cut me
out, I tell you, I'm not in this."
Peter got up and put his hands strongly on his
brother's shoulders. He didn't notice then how near
he was to a breakdown. " Graham, old man, you've
yot to be — you've just got to be. What Kenyon
said is true. You and I arc blind and are damned
children wandering about — stumljjing about. We
need — we al>solutcly need a father more than ever we
did in our lives. So do Ik'lle and Ethel. We all
think that we can go alone, and we can't. 1 know I'm
right — I just know it — so you've got to stav."
A puff of wind came through ihc open window.
Several pieces of paper flulHTcd off the dok and fell
softly on the floor. Peter stooped and picked them
1 - 1
252 THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN
up. On them the words " Hunter G. Guthrie " had
been written over and over again.
He laughed as he looked at them. " What on earth
has father been writing his name all over these sheets
for ? How funny ! What a strange old chap he seems
to be. It's a sort of undergraduate trick, this, —
practising a signature before writing a first cheque."
"Give 'em to me!" said Graham sharply, and he
tried to snatch them away. His voice was hoarse and
his hand shook.
Peter looked at him in great surprise. It was im-
possible for him not to be aware of the fact that some-
thing was dreadfully wrong. As he stood and looked
into his brother's guilty face the fact which stood out
most clearly was that Graham had himself been writ-
ing his father's signature all over those sheets of pa-
per. Why ? A man did a thing of that sort for one
He seized Graham's hand which was pressed on the
blotting-pad, jerked it up, pushed the blotting-pad
aside and picked up the cheque-book that laid beneath
" Don't touch that," cried Graham, " for God's sake!
Let me have it! I'll tear out the cheque. I think I
was mad. Oh, God! I'm so worried I didn't know
what I was doing ! "
There was a struggle, quick and cliarp, and in an
instant Graham found himself staggering across the
With his heart standing flill, Peter opened the thin,
narrow, brown-covered book. A cheque for three
thousand dollars had been made out to Graham Gutli-
rie. The signature had been forged.
" You've done this," he said. " You've actu-
Graham was up on his feet. His lips were trem-
bling. He put out a shaking hand. "My God!"
he whispered. " Father's in the library."
The sound of the Doctor's thin, clear voice came
through the lialf-open door. Frozen with fear, Gra-
ham seemed to be unable to move. His very lips had
lost their colour.
With an overwhelming anxiety to hide his brotIicr'.s
frightful fall from honesty and sanity, Peter pounced
on the little book, thrust it into Graham's pocket,
snatched up the give-away slips of paper, tore them
into small pieces and threw them in the basket.
"Don't give me away. Don't let him know. If
you do, I swear to God you'll never sec me again ! "
There was still something to be done, and Peter did
it. He took his brother up in his arms, realizing that
he was, in a way, paralyzed, carried him to a chair
that was out of the ring of light and sat him down.
" Get yourself in hand, quick," lie whispered.
" Quick, now ! "
And Graham, strengthened by his brothers vitality.
forced himself into some sort of control.
Striding to the fireplace, Peter stood there waiting
for his father, with a strange pain going through his
body. He felt just as though he had been told that
Graham, his best pal and dear brother, had had an
appalling accident and might not live.
254 THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN
The Doctor's voice, as he gave directions to a serv-
ant, came nearer and nearer.
ri ■ , !
With his hand on the handle of the door, the Doctor
paused. " I want you to cal! me to-morrow at half-
past-seven, Alfred. Don't forget. I have a busy day.
The two boys watched him come into the room.
His head was high and there was a little smile round
his usually straight mouth. He walked with a sort of
sprightliness, as though moving to music. He looked
e.xtraordinarily young and exhilarated.
He saw what was to him a most unusual sight in
that quiet, lonely work-room. He was surprised into
an exclamation of great pleasure, and he quickened
his pace until he stood between his sons. Graham got
up and put on a nervous, polite smile. " Thiss what
I most wanted," said the Doctor, — " my two boys
waiting for me here in this room. T can't tell you —
I can't tell you, Peter, and Graham, how often, how
strongly, how eagerly I've wished to see you where
you are now. I can't tell you how I've longed to have
you here after my meetings, to teli you how I'm get-
ting on, moving things forward, and to ask you share
in my successes. My dear Peter — my dear Gra-
It was pitiful. The str.nnge. almost incoherent out-
break of the shy man nearly made Peter burst intu
tears. He would almost rather his father had treated
them coldly and with raised eyebrows. His present
attitude — his unhidden joy — his eager, and even
wistful welcome, had in it something of tragedy, he-
cause it showed all the waste of years during which
the sympathy and the complete, necessary and beau-
tiful understanding of these three might have been
welded into one great, insurmountable rock.
The Doctor, with an obvious desire to play host. —
an intuition which again touched Peter deeply. — went
quickly to a little chest wliich stood in a corner of the
room. "What will you have?"' he asked anxiously.
" I've got a very good cigar here, or cigarettes if you
would like them better. Let me see! What do you
smoke. Peter? "
" He doesn't even know what I smoke," tliought
Peter. " A pipe." he said.
"Oh, yes, yes! Well, this is generally said to be
a very good mi.xture. Try some." He gave a jar
of tobacco to Peter. "These are nice, though per-
haps they are a little too dry." .And he extended a
box of cigars to Ciraham.
The boy helped himself, trying to keep his liand
steady. " Thank you," he said.
" .And now," said the Doctor, "let's sit clown and
have a long yarn. Shall we? 1 would like to tell
you about to-night. The meeting was of vital interest
and importance." He drew his chair forward so that
it might be between those of the two boys. He looked
from Peter's face to firahani's as though afinid that
he was asking too great a favour. " Vou — you'll
! t •
256 THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN
forgive my talking about myself, I'm sure — at least
I hope you will. I so seldom have the opportunity, —
with those I love, I mean — with those for whom I'm
working. To see you here like this, at last, makes me
very happy." He slipped his large glasses off and
wiped them openly without attempting to hide the
fact that they had become suddenly useless to
A short silence followed — a silence in which the
emotion witli which the room was charged could al-
most be heard. Peter threw a quick glance round it,
almost as though he expected to see the curious ex-
perimental tubes turn and point accusingly at his
brother. The laboratory was filled with such tubes
and other curious instruments, — all of them silent wit-
nesses of Graham's act of madness.
The Doctor re-lit his cigar, put his glasses on again
and clasped his long, capable hands over one tliin knee.
" I wish I could even suggest to you," he said — more
naturally and with keen enthusiasm — " the intense ex-
citement that we bacteriologists are all beginning to
feel. For years and years we've been experimenting,
and little by little our work is coming to a definite
head. Every time we meet we find tliat we've moved
a step further on the road to discoveries. It makes
me laugh to think that my early theories, which, only
a few years ago, were scoffed at and looked upon as
dreams, are taking shape. It's been a long, uphill
fight. Science is beginning to win. It's all very won-
derful." ITe noticed that (^raham's cigar had gone
out. With extreme politeness, such as a man would
use to very welcome guests, he held out a box of
The boy took it. " I don't feel like smoking," he
said, with a catch in his voice.
Something in his tone made the Doctor peer closely
at him. " You look pale, my dear lad," he said, " pale
and tired. Aren't you well ? "
"Oh, yes; he's perfectly all right," said Peter hur-
riedly, trying to steer his father to another subject.
Graham threw his cigar away. "I'm not!" he
cried, with a sudden, uncontrollable outburst. " I feel
as rotten as I am. I can't sit here and listen to you,
father. Don't be kind to me, I can't stand it." He
put his head down between his hands and burst out
crying like a boy.
The Doctor was startled. He got up quickly and
stood hesitatingly. He wanted to put his hands on
the boy's shoulders, but the sudden breakdown brought
back his shyness. " What's the matter ? " he asked.
" Peter, do you know ? "
Peter nodded. He tlien made up his mind to let
things take their course. " Let him tell you," he said.
" This may be the turning point for all three of us."
Graham drew the ohe(|ne-book out of his pocket,
opened it and threw it on the desk under the reading
lamp. " Look ! " lie said. " That's what I've come
For some moments the Doctor saw nothing but a
cheque drawn by himself in favor of his second son
for three thousand dollars. The fact that he didn't re-
member having made it out, and tlie fact that it was
258 THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN
for so large a sum made at first no impression upon
him. He was so puzzled and so taken back at the
sudden outburst of emotion which had broken up what
he hoped was going to be a charming reunion that the
sight of this cheque conveyed nothing to him. Both
his s >! watched him closely, not knowing what he
woulvi say or do. He was sitch a stranger to them —
his .'eelings and characteristics were so unknown to
thein that they found themselves speculating as to the
manner in which he would take this dreadful piece of
dishonesty. A great surprise was in store for them.
When the Doctor realized what had been done, —
that the signature on the cheque was not his own, al-
though it was very cleverly copied, — they saw him
wince and shut his eyes. After a moment of peculiar
hesitation he drew his chair up to the desk and sat
down. Holding his breath, Peter watched him tear
the cheque out and quietly make out another for pre-
cisely the same amount. Then the Doctor got up and
stoixl in front of Graham with the new cheque in his
hand. All the sprightliness and exhilaration with
which he had entered the room had left him. He
looked old and thin and humble. His shoulders
stooped a little .ind the cheque trembled in his hand.
" .\m I such nn ogre that my children are afraid to
bring their troubles to me? " he said, in a broken voice.
"What have I ever done to desene this, Graham?
Vou"d only to come to me and say that you needed
nionev and I'd have given it to you. Who am I work-
ing lor? For whom have I always worked?" He
licld out the cbci|uc. "Take it, and if that isn't
enough ask me for more. I'd like to knt w why it is
that you need it, if you'll be good ent>ugh to tell me;
but, for God's sake, don't hurt me like this again."
Without a word — without, indeed, being able to
find a word, — infinitely more crushed by this kindness
than he would have been by an outburst of anger and
reproach, — Graham took the cheque, turned on his
heel and left the room, walking like a drunken man.
Peter watched him go. There was a feeling of
great relief in his heart. Nothing that he could have
done or said — nothing that Kenyon could have said
in his most forcible manner, with all the weight of
sophistication behind it, could have pulled Graham up
and set him on a new path so well as the unexiiected
generosity of his father and the few pathetic words
with which he underlined it.
But when Peter turned round to his father with the
intention of taking him, for the first time, into his con-
fidence and treating him as he would have treated
Ranken Townsend under the same circuiU'-'inccs. he
saw that the Doctor was crumpled up in his chair with
his hands over his face and his shoulders shaking with
sobs, and so he held his peace ; and instead of obtain-
ing the help that he needed so much he put his strong
arm rounil his father in a strange protective way, as
though he were the stronger man.
" Oh, don't, father," he said. " Please don't."
26o THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN
I ■■' 'f
There was a good reason why Kenyon didn't stay
out his fortnight at Dr. Guthrie's house. He had al-
ready begun to know several young men whose very
good feathers were waiting to be plucked. It was
obviously impossible for him to invite them to East
Fifty-second Street, and it became necessary, there-
fore, that he should take a bachelor-apartment in
which to set up business. There he couUl play cards
until any hour that suited liim and settle down seri-
ously to make his winter in New York a success.
Also, he confessed to himself, the atmosphere of the
Doctor's hou.so was not conducive to his peace of mind
or to his rigidly selfish way of life. He hadn't come
over to the United States in order to play the fairy
godmother, or even the family adviser to the young
Gnthries. He had worked hard to clear the one thing
out of Graham's life which had rendered him useless,
and he had had the satisfaction of seeing Peter's en-
gagement broken, for which admirable accident he
was profoundly grateful, because Peter also would
now be free. In fact, these two brothers could now
easily Se brought to concentrate upon Kenyon's de-
serving case and take round to his apartment any
friends of theirs who enjoyed gambling and could pay
whan they lost.
Kenyon possessed a neat and tidy brain. It was
run on the same principle as a well-organized business
office. It had its metaphorical card indexes, letter-
files and such like: so that when he made up his mind
to go into his own quarters he gave the matter the
closest and most careful consideration. He paid sev-
eral visits to the well-known bachelor apartment-
houses in and around West I'orty-fourth Street.
They would have been very suitalile but for the c.vi.st-
ence of irksome rules and regulations as to ladies. He
went further afield and, with (iraham's assistance, ex-
amined several apartments in private h.mscs. \Vhat
he wanted was a place sumewlicre on the map where
his breakfast would be cooked especially for him at
any hour he desired, and which would be free of ele-
vator boys, clerks, and the watchful eye of a manager.
Fuially he discovered e.xactly such a place on the sec-
ond floor of a fairly large old-fashioned house in West
Forty-eighth Street. In this the elderly lady who, as
Kenyon at once saw, was blessed with the faculty of
Ijemg able to look at things with a Xelsonian eye-
having, poor soul, to earn her living,— lived in the
basement with her parrot and her Man.x cat. Two
young business men shared rooms on the first floor
and a retired professor— who si)ent the greater part
of his time in the country — rented the third floor.
The servants slept in the attic.
Into this house Kenyon moved,— much against the
wishes of all the Guthries, especially Belle,— the day
after Peter's attempt to get in touch with his father
came to such an utter failure. He was very well
pleased with his quarters. They gave him elbow-room
and freedom from the responsibility of looking after
another man's sons. The sitting-room, arched in the
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262 THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN
middle, ran from the front to the back of the house
and it was well and discreetly furnished. There was
a particularly nice old Colonial mirror over the man-
tel-piece, and what prints there were hanging on the
walls were very pleasant. The bedroom across the
passage would have been equally large had it not been
broken up to provide a bath-room and a slip-room for
I'ate, however, with its characteristic impishness,
interfered with Kenyon's well-laid scheme. At the
very hour when he was arranging his personal photo-
graphs a cable addressed to hiir was delivered at Dr.
Guthrie's house. It so happened that Peter was in the
hall when the servant took it in, and he started off at
once to take it round to his friend. He was glad
enough to seize any excuse to see Kenyon again. He
felt horribly at a loose end. Graham's affairs had
completely upset him and disarranged his plans. He
was longing to see Betty, but was not going back on
his agreement with Ranken Townsend until such time
as he could make the artist eat his words; and, as to
his father and his endeavor to break down that appar
ently insurmountable barrier, he was utterly disheart-
ened and depressed. He was shown into Kenyon's
rooms at the moment w'hen he was standing in front
of a very charming photograph of Baby Lennox which
he had placed on the sideboard. It showed her in ;i
little simple frock, with a wide-brimmed garden hat,
standing among her roses with a smile on her face.
She looked very young, pretty and flower-like.
I ve brought this cable round. Otherwise
?'''" t have rushed in on you quite so soon.'
we.WW ^^^ u'' ^°^'" '"'"^ ^'">'°"' "y°" know very
Hell that you have the complete run of whatever place
I may be hvmg i„ at all hours of the day and night.
A cable for me. eh ? What the devil _? i ,vas jolly
England. Too many are anxious to serve me with
summonses Baby Lennox is going to be married,
perhaps, and sends me the glad tidings. By Tove I
wonder who she's nabbed ! " He shot out a laugh and
tore open the envelope. "Oh, my God' "
"What is it?" asked Peter, anxiously.
Kenyon held out the'cablegram and remained stand-
ing ng.d. with his mouth open and his eyes shut, and
nis face as white as a stone.
It was from Baby Lennox. " Your fathe. died last
n>ght. A heart attack. Come home at once "
"Oh my dear Nick! " said Peter. " My dear old
boy ! I can't tell you how "
" No,'- said Kenyon ; " don't say anything. Just sit
down and wait for me. Whatever you do, don't go "
And he went out of the room and across the passage
to his bedroom, and shut himself in
Peter waited. The few cold, definite and even
brutal words contained in the cablegram would ha\e
i;t him much harder and rendered his sympathy for
H.s friend very much more real if he could have felt
what It would have been to him to hear of the death
of his own father. While he waited, mechanically
holding that slip of paper between his fingers hi. re
264 THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN
spect for his friend's grief widened into an odd and
powerful feeling of envy. The man who was dead
had been infinitely more than a father. He had been
a friend and a brother as well. It made him sick and
cold to feel that the receipt of such a cablegram bring-
ing to him the news of the death of his own father
would have moved him only to extreme sympathy for
his mother. He was ashamed and humiliated to real-
ize that no actual grief would touch him, because his
father was nothing more than a sort of kind but illusive
guardian or a good-natured step-father — altogether
unufd to children — who effaced himself as much as
he could and threw all responsibility upon his wife.
It was an hour before Kenyon reappeared, and dur-
ing that time — which seemed to Peter no more than
a few minutes — he went over again in his mind the
scene which had taken place in the Doctor's laboratory,
out of which he had gone stultified and thrown back
upon himself. He was as grateful as Graham had
been for the Doctor's generosity, but appalled at the
thought that he had utterly failed to realize not only
the gravity of Graham's act, but the long years of
parental neglect which made such an act possible. It
seemed to him that the way in which his father had
■ taken that deplorable incident was all wrong. He
should not have written another cheque. He should
have had Graham up in front of him, strongly and
firmly, and tried him as a judge would have tried him
if his act had been discovered and dealt with by law.
He should have gone into all the circumstances which
led up to the forgery and tliereby have cleared the way
for a new understanding. As it was, his acceptance
of it was so weak that it gave Peter and Graham a
feeling almost of contempt for tiuu too kind man to
whom children were obviously without significance,
and the unmistakable knowledge that he was unable to
understand his grj.ve responsibility and the fact that
he, alone among men, must take the blame for all their
misdeeds and mistakes, because they had been allowed
to enter life unwarned, unguidcd and unhclped. The
outcome to Peter of this hour's bitter thought was
finally this : That if news were brought to him at that
moment of his father's death the only sorrow that he
could feel would be at the fact that he felt no sorrow.
When Kenyon came back into the room it was with
his usual imperturbability. He might merely have
left it to answer the telephone or interview the man
who had come to collect his clothes to be ironed. But
his eyes were red. In his own peculiar wav ' ■ had
loved his father and admired him. It was .<: first
time that he had wept since he had been a child.
" Thanks, so much, for waiting, old toy," he said.
" I hope you've been smoking, or something."
"No," said Peter; "I have things to think about
Kenyon looked about, with a queer little smile. " I
was just settling down," he said. " Very decent room,
this, isn't it ? Well, well, there it is. You never know
your luck, eh?"
"When will you sail, Nick?"
"The first possible boat. Do you know anything
about the sailings? Ah, this paper will have it. I
206 THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN
detest the sea and its everlasting monotony and bland-
ness, and the dull-oright propinquity that it forces
upon one." He opened the paper and searched among
its endless columns for the Shipping News. " Here
we are. ' Trans- Atlantic Sailings.' I have a wide
choice, I see. There's a Whi.e Star and a Cunarder
leaving to-morrow at twelve-thirty. The Olympic. 1
see! That's good enough, — if she's not full up. I'll
see to it this afternoon. There's sure to be a cabin
somewhere at this time of year."
" I shall miss you badly," said Peter.
•' Thanks, old man. I know you will. And I shall
hate going. Well, well ! "
Peter picked up a book and put it down again;
opened and shut a box of cigarettes and pushed a bowl
of flowers nearer the middle of the table. " Do you
want any — I mean, can I ? "
Kcnyon laid his hand on his friend's square shoul-
der. " Not this time, Peter, old son. Tha.-'ks, aw-
fully. I've had one or two good nights and my pock-
ets are full of dollars. They'll see me home with per-
fect comfort. Well, here ends my visit to the United
States. To-morrow night I shall have left the hos-
pitable Statue of Liberty behind me. But she'll see
me again. I'll dash round in the morning and thank
your people for their extreme kindness to me. You'll
see me off, won't you? "
" Yes," said Peter ; " of course."
" Of course. 'We won't dine to-night. I — I don't
feel like it."
" I understand, old man," said Peter.
" So long, then."
" So long," said Peter.
" The Earl is d ad! " said Kenyon, with a sudden
break in his voice. " Long live the Earl! " And he
raised his hand above his head.
Not for the first time in his comparatively short
life, Nicholas Kenyon was able to put to the test his
often boasted power of self-control. It was his creed
to accept everything that might happen to him, whether
good or bad, with equanimity. It was part of his
training to allow nothing to interfere with the routine
of his day and the particular scheme that he had
worked out for himself. He was, however, utterly
unprepared for his father's death. Only the day be-
fore he had received a very cheerful and amusing let-
ter from the Earl of Shropshire which had provided
him with many quiet chuckles. \\'hen the blow came
in that sudden fashion it knocked hitn down and for
an hour reduced him to the level of an ordinary human
being — of a man who had not specialized in individ-
ualism and who did not set the earth revolving round
himself as its hub. Shut up in his bedroom he gave
way to his real and best emotions, the genuineness of
which surprised him. He was a master egotist — a
superindividualist — the very acme of selfishness.
Therefore, odd as it may seem, he was somewhat
ashamed of his deep feeling, because it proved to him
that one of the links of his carefully forged chain of
268 THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN
?■ ■ I , !
philosophy was weak. He defined the word philoso-
pher as one who is profoundly versed in the science of
looking after himself.
As soon as I'cter had left Kenyon's rooms, the new
Earl of Shropshire took himself in hand and " carried
on " as they do in the Navy after casualties, accidents
and the issue of new orders. He continued to ar-
range his photographs round the room. He consid-
ered that he might as well make himself completely
comfortable until the time came for him to pack up
again and leave the country. He called up Belle on the
telephone and had a little talk with her. He told her
of his father's death and of the fact that he would have
to sail within the next twenty-four hours. He lis-
tened with satisfaction to her cry of anguish, and ar-
ranged with her to come to see him that evening. It
appeared that she was engaged to dine with some
friends and go with them to hear Alfred Noyes read
his poems at the .Solian Hall. He insisted upon her
keeping her engagement and begged that she would
come round to his rooms alone at eleven o'clock.
He didn't intend to leave the United States, even
under such circumstances, without adumg Belle to his
little list of conquests. The cold-bloodedness of such
an intention was peculiarly characteristic of the man.
" No weakness," he said to himself — " no weakness.
No matter what happens, what had happened, is hap-
pening or may happen, you must carry on. You've
built up a creed, stick to it." And then, very quietly -
having changed his tie to a black one — he went forth
to discover the offices of the White Star Steamship
Company,— having obtained the proper directions
from his landlady. He took the subway to the Bat-
tery, interviewed a clerk of Number One Broadway,
had the good fortune to find that there was a state-
room vacant on the boat deck of the Olympic;
wrote his cheque for it ; pocketed a bundle of labels ;
paid Graham a brief visit in his office on Wall Street
and walked all the way home again, endeavoring to
count the German names all along tlic most amazing
street in the world, and giving up his temporary hobby
in despair. On the way home he sent oft" a cable to
Baby Lennox, giving her the name of the ship on
which he was to sail. By this time he was tired and a
little dazed at the amazing stir and bustle of Broad-
way, with its never-ceasing lines of cable-cars and its
whir and rush of human traffic. He was glad of a
cup of tea, and presently arranged himself for a quiet
nap on the sofa in his sitting-room.
Later, with his mind concentrated solely on Belle's
impending visit and what he intended to achieve, he
dined alone at the Ritz, dropped in to see a turn or
two at the Palace, and strolled back to Forty-eighth
Street at half-past-ten. As he went into the house
he heard the landlady talking to the two young busi-
ness men who lived on the hrst floor. She was asking
them to De gc od enough not to play the piano that
evening, as the Professor had come back from the
country and was very unwell. She had sent for the
doctor, and he would be more comfortable if the house
were as silent as it could be made.
Knowing that Belle would he punctual that night.
270 THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN
of all nights, he went down just before eleven o'clock
and waited for her at the front door. It was his in-
tention to get her into the house unobserved, more for
his own sake than for hers. The night was clear, but
half a gale was blowing, carrying before it all the dust
of the city and sending odd pieces of paper swirling
into the air and making the hanging signs outside
shops and small restaurants ci^ak and groan. In its
strong, vibrating song there was a note of wild passion
that fitted exquisitely into Kenyon's frame of mind.
Belle drove up in a taxicaj a few minutes after
eleven. " Not a word until we get upstairs," said
Kenyon, as he helped her out. And then when she
stood in his sitting-room, with all her emotions in a
Slate of upheaval, nothing was said for many minutes.
He took her in his arms and kissed her, delighting in
her young beauty and freshness with all the apprecia-
tion of a connoisseur.
There seemed to Belle to be no indiscretion in this
visit. V/as she not engaged to be married to this man ?
As a matter of fact, she w as not. Kenyon had been
playing with her ; and now that he had succeeded to his
father's title he had even less intention of dealing seri-
ously by her than ever before. Marriage was not in
his thoughts or plans. The title was his and the old
house that went with it, but he was no better ofif than
he had been as Nicholas Kenyon, the Oxford under-
graduate. On the contrary he now had responsibilities
of which he had hitherto been free and he must look
out for some one who could buy his name for a sub-
stantial sum. If Belle had read into his vague and
indefinite remarlts a j-roposal of marriage it only
showed that she possessed a very lively imagination.
He was not going at that point j i<ndeceive her. He
was merely going io take from her everything that she
was gracious enough to give. His trip to New York
had provided him with very little in actual suVstance.
He was determined that it should not be altogether
empty, and that Belle should furnish him with a charm-
He broke into Belle's preliminary remarks of con-
ventional condolence by saying, " Thank you ; but
please don't say a word about my father. Let's talk
about ourselves. We're alive. The next few hours
are our property. Let's make them memorable. Let's
give each other something that we can never forget."
And he took her cloak and led her to a chair as though
she were a oueen, d stood looking at her with very
But Belle's temperament was Latin. Ever since
Kenyon had spoken to her over the telephone she had
been unable to control her feelings. She loved this
man overwhelmingly. She had given him all her
heart, which had never been touched before. To her
it seemed amazingly cruel that fate had come along
with its usual lack of sympathy and circumspection
and put a sudden end to all the delightful hours to
which she had been looking . irward. The death of a
man whom she didn't know meant very little to her.
She was young, and to the young what is death but »
vague mystery, aii inconvenient accident which seems
to afifect every one but themselves ? Inder 1, s'.ic rather
THE SINS OF THE CIiILDREN
resented the fact that Kenyon's father, in dying, war,
to take so suddenly out of her life the one human being
about whom her entire happiness revolved.
"Oh, Nicholas, Nicholas! Must you go? Must
you leave me ? Let me go with you. I have the right.
I shall be miserable and unhappy without you." And
she clung to him with all the unreasonableness of a
Kenyon was not in the least touched by this appeal
— only e.xtremely pleased, because it showed him that
Belle was in the ri,!,'ht mood to \>e won. He put his
hand on her round, white shoulder. " You must be
brave," he .said. " I know how you feel, but you must
help me. Don't make things more difficult than they
are. I may be able to come back quite soon, — who
can tell? "
" I believe you're glad to go ! " cried Belle.
Kenyon drew back. He wanted to make her feel
that she had hurt him. He succeeded.
In an instant, full of self-reproach, Belle was on her
feet and in his arms again. " What am I going to do
without you? I almost wish you'd never come into
my life. I've been looking forward to your being
here the whole winter. How am I going to get
through the days alone ? "
A motor-car drew up at the house. Neither of them
heard Dr. Guthrie's voice giving a quick order to the
chauffeur O' recognized his step as he passed upstairs
on the way to see his friend, the Professor, on the
floor above, to whom he had been called by the land-
Presently, having turned out all the lights exrept a
shaded lamp on the table. Kenyon began to let himself
go. He threw aside his characteristic calmn. 3 and
became the lover — the passionate, adoring man who
was about to be separated, under tragic circumstances,
from the girl who was equally in love He threw
aside his first intention of finessing KcIIe into his bed-
room on the plea of asking her to help him to pack
He remembered that the old man above was ill and that
the landlady and others would ..; passing to and fro.
This was distinctly annoying. He was. however, a
past-master in the art that he was at present pursuing
and set the whole of his mind on his opportunity.
Belle was, naturally enough, as putty in his ands and
her despair at losing him made her weak J pliable.
He sat down on the sofa and held Belle in his arms
and kissed her again and again. " I love you ! I love
you! I don't know — I can't think what I shall be
like without you." he said, bringing all his elaborate
cunning to play upon her feelings. "More like a
man who's lost his arms than anything; and we were
to have come nearer and nearer this winter, finding
out all the best of each other and all the joy that it is
to love wholly and completely."
"Oh, don't go. don't go!" cried Belle, making a
pathetic and almost child-like refrain of the words, " I
love you so ! I love you so I "
Kenyon bent down with her until her head was pil-
lowed on the cushions, and kissed her lips and eyes.
" You must love me, sweetheart, you must. It's the
only thing that I can turn to and count on now. Go on
274 THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN
loving me every minute that I'm away. I shall need
it, — and before I go let me have the precious proof of
your love to store up in my heart. Give me the price-
less gift that is the only thing to keep me living till I
" Nicholas, Nicholas ! " she whispered, with her
young breasts heaving against him. " I love you so !
I love you so I "
The moment of his triumph had almost been reached
when the Doctor, on his way down, saw something
glistening in the passage outside Kenyon's sitting-
room. He stooped and picked it up. He was puzzled
to see that it was a little brooch that he had given
to Belle on one of her birthdays. Her initials had
been worked on it in diamonds. For several mo-
ments he held it in his hand, wondering how it could
have been dropped in that place. He was utterly
unaware of the fact that Kenyon lived in the house
which he knew to be given up to bachelors. Then
the blood rushed into his head. Almost for the first
time in his life the Doctor acted on the spur of
the moment. He was filled with a sudden sense of
fear before which his inherent shyness and hesitancy
were swept completely away. He tried to open the
door. It was locked. He hammered upon it, shout-
ing : " Let me in ! Let me in ! "
Kenyon, cursing inwardly, sprang up from the sofa.
" It's your father," he said. " Go and sit by the table,
quick, and pretend to be arranging these photographs. "
He could have ignored that knocking, but the result
would be that the Doctor would go down to the land-
lady and there would be a scandal. How in the name
of thunder did l,e know that Belle was in the room?
He dashed over to the mantel-piece, collected a hand-
tul of his pictures and threw them on the table in
front of Belle, who, with a touch of panic, tried to
smooth her hair. Then he went to the door and
" Good evening, Doctor," he said quietly " Thio-
ls very kind of you. Belle is here helping me to pack
and Peter should have been here, but I expect some-
thing has detained him. Do come in." He saw the
brooch in the Doctor's hand and cursed Belle's care-
As Dr. Guthrie entered the room the blood slowly
left his head. A feeling of .intense relief pervaded
him. He saw Belle sitting at the table with the ut-
most composure putting one photograph on top of
another. At his side stood the man who hart recently
been his honored guest and who was the best friend
of his eldest son.— the man of whose sad loss he had
heard that afternoon from his wife. He thanked God
that everything was well and hastened to accept Ken-
yon's suggestion that he had come there for the pur-
pose of saying good-bye to him. It saved him from
the appearance of having lost his head and made a
fool of himself. " I — I'm indeed grieved to hear of
your father's death, my dear Mr. Kenyon," he said
stammering a little. " I was called to see an old friend
of mine who lives in this house, who isn't at all well,
and I thought I'd take the opportunity on my way
276 THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN
" I'm deeply obliged to you," said Kenyon, giving
the weak, nervous man before him the credit of hav-
ing seized the hint so quickly. " It helps me very much
to have so many good friends. I sail to-morrow at
two-thirty. This is a good opportunity for me to
thank you very much for your delightful hospitality.
Will you wait for Peter?"
" No ; I think not, thanks," said the Doctor. " It's
getting late and, as you say, Peter has in all prob-
ability been detained. Belle, dear, I think you'd bet-
ter come with me, now."
Kenyon was still quite placid and courteous and un-
daunted. " Oh, but mayn't she stay until Peter turns
" I think not," replied the Doctor, astonished at his
own firmness. " It's very latt."
" Curse it ! Curse it ! " cried Kenyon, inwardly.
But with a little smile he went over to Belle and gave
her his hand. " You've helped me a lot," he said. " I
can easily finish packing now. Good night and good-
Choking back her sobs and full of resentment at
her father's clumsiness and interference. Belle rose and
allowed Kenyon to help her into her cloak.
By a strange accident she, like Graham, had been
saved from a disaster which might have followed her
into the future. God's hand must have been stretched
out to help that man, who, by his unconscious neglect,
had made it possible for these two children of his to
stand on the brink of irreparable misfortune.
Kenyon, keeping up a quiet flow of conventional
remarks, followed them down-stairs and out into the
street. He could have drawn Belle back into the hall
while the Doctor went out to the car, and kissed her
once again. But,— it was over, what was the use.
He watched her fling herself into the motor-car and
sit all hunched up with her hands over her face, and
then he took the Doctor's hand and shook it warmly.
All the angels in Heaven must have shuddered as he
did so, and cried, " Judas ! Judas ! "
"Good-bye again, then," said the Doctor. " Fm
deeply sorry for the reason that takes you away from
us. I hope we may see you again soon."
" I hope so, too," said Kenyon.
Standing in that quiet street he watched the auto-
mobile drive away, and cursed. His mind was filled
with impotent rage. He felt as he did when he was a
child and some one had hurt him. He wanted to find
the thing which that some one treasured most and
break it all to pieces, and stamp on it. Then he re-
turned to his rooms, switched on all the lights, and with
a gesture almost animalish in its baffled passion, swept
all the photographs from the table.
He was kicking them savagely, one after another,
when he heard the whistle which he and Peter had
used at Oxford to attract each other's attention. He
ran to the window and opened it. There stood
Peter with a glint of moonlight on his great square
"Come up!" said Kenyon. "By God, my luck's
come back! Now I can make that old fool pay for
ruining my evening!"
■i ' '■>
378 IHB SINS OF THE CHILDREN
■ * M
With a fiendish scheme in the back of his head and
with a most unpleasant smile on his face, Kenyon went
over to the sideboard. He brought out two glasses.
In one he mixed a whiskey high-ball and in the other
he poured a concoction of neat whiskey and brandy,
adding sverything else that his bottles contained, — a
mixture calculated to dull the senses even of the most
hardened drinker. Then he waited — still with this
unpleasant smile upon his face.
When Peter came in he looked tired and pale. His
boots were covered with dust and there were beads oi
perspiration on his forehead. " I saw that you were
up," he said, " so I whistled. If you hadn't called out
I should have gone home. Hope you don't mind."
" Mind ! " cried Kenyon. " I never was so glad to
see anybody in my life. You look like a tramp.
Where've you been ? "
Peter threw his hat on the sofa and sat down heavily.
" I wasn't in the mood to go home to dinner. I've
been walking hard ever since I saw you. God knows
where I've been. At one time I stood under the
apartment-house in Gramercy Park. It's a wonder I
didn't go up and have it out again with Ranken Town-
send. But it wouldn't have been any use."
" Not the smallest," said Kenyon. " You'd only
have given him the satisfaction of standing on his hind-
legs and preaching to you. Will you have something
Peter shook his head.
" Well, then, have a drink." And he put the poison
in front of Peter. " I was going to drink to myself,
— a rather dull proceeding alone. Now you can join
me. On your feet, Peter, old man, and with no heel-
taps, I give you * the new Peer! The most decorative
member of England's aristocracy,— Nicholas Augus-
tus Fitzhugh Kenyon, Eighth Earl of Shropshire,
master of Thrapstone-Wynyates — the man without
a shilling ! ' Let it go ! "
Peter stood up, clinked his friend's glass with his
own, emptied it and set it down. " Good Lord ! " he
said, with a frightful grimace. "What in thunder
was that ? "
Kenyon burst into a dctisive laugh. '"Some
drink,' as you say over here. Away goes your water-
wagon. Master Peter. Off you come from your self
made pedestal. Drunk and incapable will be the words
that will presently be very fitly applied to you, my im-
maculate friend." And he laughed again, as though
it were a great joke. It would do him good to see
Peter " human," as he called it, for once, to satisfy
his sense of revenge — to pay out Dr. Guthrie for his
Peter was glad to get back to his chair. " I don't
care what happens to me," he sai " What does it
matter? I've got nothing to live for — a father who
doesn't care a damn what becomes of me, and a girl
who's given me up without a struggle."
He had had nothing to eat since the middle of the
day. He was mentally and physically weary. Al-
280 THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN
though he was unaware of the fact, he had caught a
severe chill. It was not surprising that the horrible
concoction which Kenyon had deliberately mixed went
straight to his head.
Everything vile lying at the bottom of Kenyon's
nature had been stirred up. At that moment he cared
nothing for his friend's repeated generosity, his con-
sistent loyalty and his golden friendship. With a sort
of diabolical desire to amuse himself and see humiliated
in front of him the man who had stuck to his principles
so grimly, he filled his glass again, to make certainty
doubly certain. " This time," he cried, " I'll give you
another toast. Come on, now. On your feet again,
and drink to ' that most charming family, the Guthries,
and in particular to the eldest son — to the dear, good
boy who has run straight and never been drunk, and
has treated women with such noble chivalry. In a
word, to Peter, the virgin man.' " He raised his glass,
and so did Peter. This time the stufi almost choked
him and he set his glass down only half empty. But
he put on a brave front and sat up straight, laughing
a little. " Nice roo-ns, these," he said. " Large and
airy. Bit nicer than our first rooms at Oxford, eh? "
How different this hideous poison made him look.
Already he was like a fine building blurred by mist.
" It's extraordinary what you dry heroes can do
when you try," said Kenyon. " All I hope is that
you'll come face to face with your fond parent pres-
ently when you fumble your ,vay into your beautiful
home." He bent down and picked up his photograi '■>
and went on talking as though to himself. " Yes,
there s some satisfaction in making others pay I've
tried ,t before, and know. I remember that plebeian
mtle hunx at Oxford who was going into the Church
His name was Jones,- or something of the sort. I
think he was a damned Welshman. He once called
me a 'card sharp.' I didn't forget it. The first
night he turned up in his Parson's clothes I doped him
and he woke up next morning in the gutter. I loved
■t. Now, then, Peter, give me a hand with these
things and bring them across the passage to my bed-
room." He pointed to soirie books and left the room
with his photographs.
Peter got up unsteadily and rocked to and fro He
picked up the books as he -..s directed and staggered
after his friend. He lurched into the bedroom and
stood in the doorway, supporting himself. "I'm —
iTu '^''"".^'" ^' '^'"^' ^^'"^^y- "Hopelessly drunk.
Wha— what the devil have you done to me' "
Kenyon burst out laughing. Many times he had
threatened to do this for his friend, whose attitude
of consistent healthiness and simplicity had always
irritated him. He delighted at that moment in seeing
Peter all befogged and helpless and as wholly unable
to look after himself as though he were a hahy.
" Now you'd better go," he said sharply. He was
tired with the episode. "I'm sick of the Guthries'
Go home and cling to your bed while it chases round
the room. I'll have mercy on you however to this
extent. I'll put you in a taxi. There's sure to be one
outside the hotel down the street. Come on, you hulk-
ing ex-Oxford man. Lean on me. Rather a para-
I , , , 1.!%
282 THE SINS Of THE CHILDREN
dox, isn't it? Hitherto I've always leaned on you."
He got his visitor's hat and jammed it on his head,
all cock-eyed. And then, still talking and jibeing and
sneering, he led the uncertain Peter down-stairs.
There were two taxicabs drawn up outside the hotel
to which Kenyon had referred. He shouted and
waved his hand. A chauffeur mounted his box,
mana-uvred the car around and drove up, glad to get
As he did so, a night butterfly flitted past, on her
way home. She had had apparently an unsuccessful
evening, for she stopped at the sight of these two men.
Her rather pretty, thin, painted face wore an eager,
anx;-~us look. " Hello, dearie! " she sa- J, and touched
Kenyon on the arm.
" By Jove ! " said Kenyon to himself. " By Jove ! "
He was struck with a new inspiration. He had
made his friend drunk. Good ! Now he would send
him off with a woman of the streets. That would
complete his evening's work in the most artistic fashion,
and render Peter human at last. And who could tell ?
It might hit the Doctor fair and square, — " the tact-
less, witless, provincial fool."
" Wait a second," he said to the girl, and witli
the able assistance of the driver put the almost in-
animate and poisoned Peter into the cab. Then he
turned. The night bird was eyeing him with a curious
wistfulness. She was too smartly dressed and the
white tops of her high boots gleamed sarcastically.
" There's a customer for you," said Kenyon, jerk-
wg his finger towards the cab. ' Take him home.
He has money in his pocket. Help yourself."
The girl gave the driver her address — which was
somewhere in the Sixties — and then, with a little
chuckle, jumped in and drew the door to l;ehind her
with a bang that echoed through the sleeping street.
The cab drove away, and Kenyon's laugh went
He was revenged.
But for the chauflfeur, a burly and obliging Irish-
man, Nellie Pope's unwilling and unconscious customer
would never have reached her rooms. They were on
■'le top floor of a brown-stone house which had no
elevator. The struggle to earn his own daily bread
made the chauflfeur sympathetic. So he got Peter
over his shoulder, as though he were a huge sack, and
earned him step by step up the narrow, ill-lit, echoing
staircase. On the top landing he waited, breathing
hard, while the girl opened the door with her latch-
"Where'll I put him?"
" Bring 'im into the bedroom," said the girl. " I'm
sure I'm obliged to you for the trouble you've taken,
mister. You'll 'ave a glass of beer before you go
down, won't you ? "
He lumped Peter on to the bed with an exclamation
of relief. It groaned beneath hi.s dead weight. Mop-
284 THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN
1 1 ■ i;
ping his brow and running his fingers through a shock
of thick, dry hair, the Irishman looked down at the
great body of his own customer's evening catch. " I
guess I've seen a good many drunks before," he said,
" but this feller's fairly paralyzed. It's a barrel he
must have had, or perhaps he's shot himself with one
of them needle things. Anyway, bo's a tine-looking
Nellie Pope, who had heard these remarks as she
was pouring out a bottle of beer, — it was one of
those apartments in which every sound carries from
room to room and in which when you are seated m
the kitchen it is possible to hear a person cleaning his
teeth in the bathroom, — went in and stood at the
elbow of the chauffeur. Switching on a light over
the bed she pee.ed into Peter's face. Her own lost
most of its prettiness under the glare. There were
hollows and sharpnesses here and there, the roots of
the hair round her temples were darker than the too-
bright gold of the rest of it. There was, however,
something kind, and even a little sweet about her
English cockney face and shrewd eyes. " Yes 'e's a
fine looking chap, isn't 'e, — a bit of a giant, too, and
looks like a gentleman. Poor boy, I wonder what that,
feller did to 'im ! " She put her hand on Peter's head
and drew it back quickly. " 'E's got a fever, I should
think. It looks as if I should 'ave to play nurse to-
night. Oh, I beg pardon, mister, 'ere's your beer."
The Irishman took the glass, held it up against the
light, made a curious Kaffir-like tiick with hie tongue
and threw back his head. " I guess th4t went down
fine," said he. " One dollar and ten cents from vou,
Miss, and I II make no charge for extras." He held
out a great horny hand.
Nellie Pope opened her imitation gold bag " Bin
out o' luck I icly," she said. " Don't kr.ow whether
l»f TT :"^u ^ '"''"■'• °'^' ^ ''"°^'" With a
l.ttle laugh she bent over Peter again and hunted him
over for some money. Finding a small leather case
she opened it. It contained a wad of bills With a
rather comical air of hj.ghty unconcern she handed
the chauffeur two dollars. "Keep the change." she
He lauched, pocketed the money, handed back the
glass and went off, shutting the door behind him
Miss Pope, who had a tidy mind as well as an
economical nature, took the glass into the kitchen and
finished the bottle herself. And then, without remov-
ing her hat and gloves she sat down and counted the
money that was contained in the case. " One hundred
and twenty-five dollars," she said. "Some little
hevening I "
She put the case into her bag, where it lay among
a handkerchief, steeped in a too-pungent scent, a small
round box of powder, a stick of lip salve, and a few
promiscuous dimes. Then she took off her hat — a
curious net-like thing round which was wound two
bright feathers — her coat and her gloves. The latter
she blew out tenderly, almost with deference Thev
were white kid. All these she put very car-"*- -^n a
scrupulously clean dresser. Singing a littl she
arranged a meal for herself on the table,— having
286 THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN
first laid a cloth. Dread, butter and sardines made
their appearance, with the remains of a chocolate cake
which had been greatly to the taste of her last nighi's
customer, who hail not been, however, a very generous
person. Extremely hungry, she sat down and, with
le knowledge that her purse was full, laid on the
ter with a more careless hand than usual. While
she ate she enjoyed the bright dialogue of Robert
Chambers in a magazine which, having first broken
its back in order to keep it open, she propped up
against a bowl. Half way through the meal, she
jumped up suddenly. " "Ere ! " she said. " You can't
leave that poor boy like that, you careless cat, and 'im
lying with a fever! " She went swiftly into the bed-
room, ind once more stood looking down at the inert
form of poor old Peter. Then she laughed at the
difficult) of taking off his clothes, and with a shrug
of her shoulders started pluckily at his boots. She
hung the coat and waistcoat over the back of one
of the cliairs, — there were only two, — and having
folded the trousers with great care, returned to her
supper. It was after two o'clock when finally she
crept quietly into bed.
A LITTLE over twenty-four years before, Nellie
Pope had been bom to two honest, hard-w rking coun-
try folk. They lived in a village of about two dozen
cottages a stone's throw from the great cross cut by
the Romans on the chalky side of Chiltem Hills, in
England. Her parents' quiver had already been a full
one and there was indeed very little room in it for
the new arrival. Eight other boys and girls had pre-
ceded her with a rapidity which must have surprised
nature herself, bounteous as she is. The father, a
deep-chested, brown-bearded, very ignorant, but good-
natured man, worked all the year round on a farm.
His wages were fourteen shillings a week. The wife,
who had been a domestic servant, added to the family
pot by taking in washing and, if able, helping at the
big house when guests were there. Neither of them
had ever been farther away from their native village
.nan the town whicn lay in the saucer of the valley,
the steeple of who.se church could be seen glinting in
the sun away below.
Little Nellai, as she was called, was thrown on her
own resources from the moment that she coiiM crawl
out of the narrow kitchen door into the patch of gar-
den where potatoes grew and eager chickens played
the scavenger for odd morsels of food. Her eldest
sister was her real mother, and it was she who daily
led her little brood of dirty-faced children out into
the beech forest which stood in strange silence behind
the cottage. The monotonous years slipped by one
after another, enlivened only by a death or a birth or
a fight, or a very occasional jaunt to the town in one
of the farm wagons, perched up on a load of hay or
wedged in between sacks of potatoes. Little Nellai's
pretty face and fair hair very soon made her a pet
of the lady at the big house, and it was from this
kind, but mistaken person, from whom she obtained
11 ■ '
288 THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN
the seeds of discontent which at the early age of sixteen
sent her into the town as a " help " in the kitchen of a
man who Itept a garage. It was from this place, on
the main road to London, that Nellie Pope saw life
for the first time and became aware of the fact that
the world was a larger place than the little village
perched up so near the sky, and caught the fever of
discovery from the white dust that was left behind
by the cars which sped to London one way. and to
Oxford the other.
During this first year among shops and country
louts, Nellie became aware of the fact that her pretty
face and fair hair were very valuable assets. They
procured her candies and many other little presents.
They enabled her to make a c, oice among the young
men with whom to walk out. They won smiles and
pleasant words not only from the chauffeurs of the
cars which came into her master s garage to be at-
tended to, but also from their owners. Eventually it
was one of these — more unscrupulous than most
who, staying for a few days at the " Red Lion,"
carried Nellie away with him to London, after several
surreptitious meetings in the shady lane at the back
of the churchyard. There it was that she saw life
with very naked eyes, passed quickly from one so-called
protector to another, was taken to the United States
by one of a troupe of gymnasts, and then deserted.
For two years she had been numbered among the night
birds who flit out after dark — a member of the oldest
profession in the world. There were, however, no
moments in her life — hard, terrible and sordid as it
aTth;;^^" "^' 'r^'^ '""''' '"''^ ^"ything like regret
Idr nt"" V''''^'^' -^""^S" ^■''■'^" '^-'^ among
the r httle gardens on the side of the hills Shf
°"f P"' "P -i'h the fatigue, brutality and uncer
tainty, the gross actuality of her nresent ll 1
thought of the deadly monotony of that peaceful vil-
lage, where summer followed winter with inexo able
routme made her shudder. The first pr Uy froi
wh.ch had been given her by the lady of LI holt
.ad begun the work. The candies and the lit ^ pre
she was, stdl very young, with a heart still kind and
v.h a nature not yet warped and brutali .i'
danger to any community in which she lived the de
.berate spreader of something so frightful that c ent
and cyduafon stood abashed in her presence.
Vanity has much to answer for, and out of nature
SS'^'-'^-^^-P'-^ berries are"S
I' was in the bed of this wretched little woman that
the unconscious Peter slept that night
.irf fr.V'" °'u"''' '" '^' '™"""S "hen the weary
girl faced another day Shp ,i;,l„-f ■ 1 ^
fact that .!,» h ^ u \ "' S™"'ble at the
l^^luA '^ ''"'" frequently disturbed and had
atched many of the hours go by while she attend d
to Peter with something of the spirit of a Magdalen
She kept repeating to herself: " Poor boy! Poor boy .
Ijonder what his mother would say if she sa^ him
She bathed his head, listened with astonishment to
ago THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN
his babbling, and tried to piece together his incoherent
pleading with Ranken Townsend and his declarations
to Betty of his everlasting love. She listened with
acute interest to the broken sentences which showed her
that this great big man-boy was endeavoring to stir up
his father to do something which seemed to him to be
urgent and vital, and she wondered who Graham was,
The first thing that she di-' when she was dressed
and had put the kettle on her gas stove to boil, was to
hunt through Peter's pockets to find out who he was.
It was obvious to her that he was not so much a cus-
tomer as a patient. She was a little afraid of accept-
ing the whole responsibility of his case. The only
\etttiT she found was one signed " Graham." headed
with the address of an ofiice in Wall Street. In the
corner of it was printed a telephone number. Graham,
it was plain to her, was a Christian name. She could
find no suggestion of the surname of the writer or of
the man who lay so heavily in the next room.
" I dunno," she said to herself. " Something has
got to be done. That boy's in a bad way. 'E's as
'ot as a pancake and I shouldn't think 'e's used to
drink by the way 'e takes it. Suppose hanythinj,'
should 'appen to 'im 'ere. I should look funny. What
'ad I better do?"
What she did was to have breakfast. During this
hasty meal she thought things over — all her hard-won
practicality at work in her brain. Then she put on
her befeathered hat and her white gloves, a second-
best pair of shoes, and went out and along the street.
and into the nearest drug store. Here she entered
tlie telephone booth and asked for the number that was
printed on Graham's note. By that time it was just
after nine o'clock. Having complied with the sharp
request to slip the necessary nickel into the slot, an
impatient voice recited the name of the firm. "I
want to speak to Mr. Graham," she said. " No such
name—? Well, keep your 'air on. Mister. I may
be a client — millionaire's wife — for all you know.
I'm asking for Mr. Graham and as 'e's a friend of
mine, and probably your boss, I'm not bothering about
his surname. You know that as well as I do — Do
I mean Mr. Graham Guthrie? Well, yes. Who else
should I mean ? " She gave a chuckle of triumph
"All right! I'll 'old on."
In a moment or two there was another voice on the
telephone. " How d'you do? " she said. " I'm hold-
ing a letter signed by you, to 'Dear Peter,'— Ah!
I thought that would make you jump— It doesn't
matter what my name is. What's that — ? Yes, I do
know where he is. I've been loo' '^g after 'im all
night. Come up to my place ri^... away and I'll
be there to meet you. Dear Peter is far from well."
She gave her address, and feeling immensely relieved
left the bo.x. But before she left the store she treated
herself to a large bo.x of talcum powder and a medium-
sized bottle of her favorite scent, paying the bill with
Peter's money. She considered herself to be fully
On the way home she dropped into a delicatessen
shop and bought some sausages, a bottle of pickles, a
292 THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN
I! '■ ii.
queer German salad of raw herring chopped up with
carrots and onions, and carried these away with her.
On her way up-stairs — the bald, hard stairs — she
was greeted by a half-dressed person whose hair was
in curl-papers and who had opened her door to pick
up a daily paper which lay outride. " Hello, Miss
Pope! Anything doing? " " Yes," said Nellie Pope,
" the market's improving," and she laughed and went
Peter was still lying inert when she bent over him
once more. She felt his head again, put the covers
about his shoulders, pulled the blind more closely over
the window, and after having put the food away re-
turned to make up her face. She wasn't going to be
caught looking what she called " second-rate " by this
Mr. Graham Guthrie when he came.
There bein^ no need to practice rigid economy at
that moment, she gave herself a glass of beer and sat
down to pass the time with her magazine, in which
life was regarded through very rosy spectacles.
VVher. finally she opened the door, in response to a
loud and insistent ring, her answer to Graham's abrupt
question: "Is my brother here?" was "Yes; why
shouldn't he be ? " She didn't like the tone. The
word " here " was underlined in an unnecessarily un-
" What's m}- brother doing here' " asked Graham.
" What d'you s'pose ? Better go and ask 'im your-
"Where is he?"
"In bed, if you must know." The girl answered
sharply. Sh-; found her caller supercilious. She
followed him into the bedroom, telling herself that
this was a nice way to be treated for all the trouble
that she had taken.
Graham bent over the bed. " Good God ! " he said.
" What's the matter with him? "
"Drink!" said the girl drily.
Drink! He never drinks."
" Then 'e must 'ave fallen otf the water-wagon into
a barrel of alcohol and opened 'is mouth too wide.
Also 'e's got a fever."
Graham turned on the girl. "How did he get
here ? "
"In a cab. You don't s'pose I carried 'im,
d'you ? "
" Where'd you find him ? "
" I didn't find 'im. Some one gave 'im to me as a
present — a nice present, I must say."
" Don't lie to me ! " cried Graham. " And don't be
"Impudent!" cride Nellie Pope, shrilly. "Here,
you'd better watch what you're saying. I don't stand
any cheek, I don't, neither from you nor anybody
else, and I'm not in the habit of lying. I tell you I was
made a present of 'im. 1 was told to take 'im 'ome
by a young fellow on Forty-eighth Street, who 'ad
called up a cab."
" Forty-eighth Street,— are you sure? '
" Well, if I don't know the streets, who does ? The
1 1 1
294 THE SINS OF TH'' CHILDREN
young fellow was a gent. He didn't talk, he gave
orders. He was tall and slight and he 'ad kinky hair.
Quite a nut. English, he was, any one could tell
"Good Gdd!" thought Graham — " Kenyon." He
sat down on the bed as though he had received a blow
in the middle of his back. Only an hour before he
had telephoned to Kenyon to say good-bye and wish
him a pleasant crossing, and all that he said about
Peter was that they had seen each other the night be-
fore. " No doubt he's all right," he had said, in
answer to Graham's anxious question. What did it
all mean? What foul thing had Kenyon done?
Graham had been up all night waiting for his
brother. He had good news for him. He had pulled
himself ti jether and gone to see Ranken Townsend
during the time that Peter had been walking the streets.
To the artist he had made a clean breast of everything,
so that he might, once for all, set Peter right in the
eyes of his future father-in-law. That was the least
that he could do. He had carried away from the
studio in his pocket a short, generous and impulsive
letter from the artist, asking Peter's forgiveness for
not having accepted his word of honor. Armed with
this, Graham had waited while hour after hour slipped
by, growing more and more anxious as Peter did not
appear. At breakfast he told his mother — in case
she should discover that Peter had not returned — that
he had stayed the night in Kenyon's rooms, as they
had much to talk about and one or two things to
arrange. He had been in the house when Kenyon
had rung up, apologizing for being unable to come
round, and thanking Mrs. Guthrie for her kindness and
And there lay Peter inanimate and stupefied. In
the name of all that was horrible, what had happened?
Graham got up and faced the girl again. " You
mustn't mind my being abrupt and rude," he said.
" I'm awfully sorry. But this is my brother, my best
pal, and I've been terribly anxious about him, and you
don't know — nobody knows — what it means to me
to see him like this."
"Ah! Now you're talking," said Nellie Pope.
" Treat me nicely and there's nothing I won't do for
you. If you ask me — and if I don't know a bit
more about life than you do I ought to — I have a
slirewd idea that your brother was made drunk, — that
IS, (loped. 'E was quite gone when 'e was put into the
cab, and from the way that kinky-headed chap laughed
as we drove off together,— I mean me and your
brother.— I should think that 'e 'ad it in for him, but
of course I don't know hanything about that. Per-
haps you do."
Graham shook his head. " No," he said ; " I don't
know anything about it either. But what are we
going to do with him, that's the point? He's ill, that's
obvious, and a doctor ought to see him at once."
" That's what I think," said the girl, " and I don't
think 'e ought to be moved, 'e's so frightfully 'ot. 'E
might catch pneumonia, or something. What I think
you'd better do is to call up a doctor at once, get him
to give your brother a dose and give me directions as
i' : I ill;
i\h i illlj
296 THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN
to what to do. 'E can stay 'ere until 'e's all right
again, and I'll nurse 'im."
" Yes, but • hy should you ?"
" Oh, bless you, that's all right. I'm glad to have
something to do. Time hangs heavy. Besides, the
poor boy is just like a baby. I like 'im and you
needn't be afraid that I shall try to get anything out
of 'im, because I shan't."
Graham snatched eagerly at the proffered assist-
ance. He was intensely grateful. " Have you a tele-
phone here ? " he asked.
Nellie Pope laughed. " What d'you take me for ? "
she said. " I'm not a chorus lady. When I want to
use the 'phone I pop round to the drug store and have
a nickel's worth. That's how I got on to you."
Graham caught up his hat and left the apartment
quickly. One of his college friends was a doctor and
had just started to practice. He would ask him to
come and see Peter. He agreed with the girl that it
would be running a great risk to move Peter, and he
was all against taking him home in his present con-
dition. It would only lead to more lies and would
certainly throw his mother into a dreadful state of
While he was gone, Nellie Pope set to work to tidy
up the bedroom. She put her boots away in a closet,
got out a clean bedspread, rubbed the powder off her
mirror and arranged her dressing-table. This doctor,
whoever he was, should find her apartment as tidy as
she could make it. It was a matter of pride with her.
She still had some of that left. One thing, however.
she was determined about. The doctor must not be
allowed to look too closely at her.
Graham came out of the telephone box in the drug
store. Dr. Harding was unable, he said, to leave his
office for an hour and a half, when he would drive to
Nellie Pope's address and meet Graham in her apart-
But as he was hurrying back to Peter's bedside,
Graham drew up suddenly. The rage that had en-
tered into his soul when he had gatherc<l that Kenyon
was responsible for his brother's condition broke into
a blaze. Almost before he knew what he was doing
or what he was going to do when he got there, he hailed
a passing taxi and told the man to drive to Kenyon's
apartment. He remembered that the liner was not
due to leave until two-thirty. Kenyon would there-
fore be at home for some time yet. He told himself
that he mitst see him — he must. He owed it to
Peter first, and then to himself as Peter's brother and
pal, to make Kenyon answer for this dirty and disloyal
trick. Yes, that was it, he told himself as the cab
bowled quickly to its destination. Kenyon must be
made to answer, or, at any rate, to offer some ex-
tenuating explanation if he could. It would be some-
thing that would make him wake up in the middle of
the night and curse himself if he let the opportunity
slip out of his hands to face Kenyon up before he went
■I' . M'
298 THE SIN'S OF THE CHILDREN
immaculately, ui 'questioned anil perhaps unpunished
out of their lives. How could he face Peter when he
was well again? How could he look at his own re-
flection in the looking-glass if, for reasons of his per-
sonal admiration of Kenyon and disinclination to force
things to an issue, he let him escape without finding
out the truth?
The cab stopped. Graham sprang out, paid the
man, ran up the flight of stone steps and rang the bell.
None too quickly it was answered by a girl with a mass
of black hair and a pair of Irish eyes which had been
put in with a dirty linger.
" Is Mr. Kenyon in? "
The hall was filled with baggage. A very distinct
" K " was on all the baggage tabs.
"All right!" said Graham. "I know my way
Rather sharply Kenyon called out " Come in !
when Graham knocked on the door of the sitting-
In a much-waisted suit of brown clothes, a brown
tie and a pair of brown shoes which were so highly
polished as to look almost hot, Kenyon was standing
with the telephone receiver to his ear. He was say-
ing " Good-bye " to one of the men to whom Graham
had been proud to introduce him and whose pockets he
had already lightened by a fairly considerable sum.
He finished speaking before turning to see who had en-
tered, and hung up the receiver.
" Oh, hello, my dear fellow ! " he said. " I didn't
expect to see you. M.nv extremely and peculiarly
pleasant ! " '
Graham wondered if he wo-.-ld think so by the time
that he had done with him. liut, with a strong effort
of wdl, he kept his sclf-contro!. He intended to let
Kenyon give himself away. That seemed to be the
Kenyon ga -e him no chance to speak. " Not satis-
fied with wishing me ' bon voyage ' over the wire, eh?
By jove, this is most friendly of you. You-!l help
kdl the boring time before I drive off to the docks
with all my duly and laboriously labelled luggage
Make yourself at home, old bo)-. and give me your
He took his hat and stick and yellow gloves out
of the one comfortable chair anci waved his hand
Graham remained standing. Having seen Peter
lying in such a bed, inert and humiliated,— Peter, of
all men,— he resented Kenyon's suave cordiality and
glib complacency. " Pve just come from Peter," he
Kenyon burst out laughing. "Oh, do tell me'
How does he look ? Is his head as big as the dome of
St. Paul's this morning? It ought to be. I gave him
the sort of mixture that would blow most men sky-
high. It's never been known to fail."
"It hasn't?" said Graham. "So you did give it
to him!" he added inwardlv. "Good! You'll nav
for that." ' '^ ^
" I *as amp.zed to sec the thirsty way our abstem-
300 THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN
ious Peter lapped it down. I've a sneaking notion
that he liked it. It was on an empty stomach, too.
He seems to have been in an emotional mood yester-
day — tramping the streets. Ye gods, how these
sentimentalists go to pieces under the influence of a
bit of a girl! He came up here fairly late, just after
Belle — I mean, just after "
"Belle? Was Belle here last night, then?" Gra-
ham's voice rang out sharply.
" Yes," said Kenyon, with a curious smile. After
all, what did it matter now who knew? He was on
the verge of sailing and he hoped that he might never
see this family of Guthries again. " Yes, Belle was
There was a look in the corners of Kenyon's eyes
that sent a spasm of fear all through GrahaT-',-, h.:Ay.
What was this man not capable of doing since he had
deliberately turned Peter, his friend, over to a street-
walker, having first rendered him senseless? "Then
I'm here for Belle, as well," he said to himself, " and
whatever you did you'll pay for that too."
There was an empty cardboard collar-box on the
floor. Kenyon gave it a spiteful kick. " Yes, Belle
and I had, — what shall I call it? — a rather tender
parting scene here last night, — quite tender, in fact.
All very amusing in the sum total of things, eh? I
was peculiarly ready for Peter when he dropped in.
And, by the way, how on earth did you find out where
he spent the night, learning, I trust, to shake off some
of his Quaker notions? "
" She rang me up," said Graham, whose fists were
c enchcl so fjjhtly that every finger contained a pulse.
He was .l„,ost ready to hi, -aln.ust. ile was only
treSry "'" °"'"' '"""^ *"' ""' "^"'^ '^°^'
•• Oh. did she? Found your name and address in
ieters pocket. 1 suppose. Well, she came along last
n.ght a the exact psychological moment. The alacrity
wuh winch she took dear old drunken Peter off my
hands at the „,erest hint had a certain amount of
pathos ahout.t.//.', off his in.maculate perch now,
eh Ih-s eft his tuppenny halo on a pretty sordid
hat-peg. at last, eh? He'll thank me for having done
It for h.m one of these days, Ml be hound "
Graham went slowly o^•er to him. " Not one of
these days," he said with e.xtreme distinctness,
i hrough me. thank God, to-day — now "
Kenyon darted a quick look at the man who had
always caused him a considerable amount of inward
laughter, whom he had labelled as a precocious pro-
vmcal. He saw that his face had gon. as white as a
stone — that his nostrils were all distended and that
his eyes seemed to have become bloodshot No
coward, Kenyon had an inherent detestation of a
fracas, especially when he was dressed for the street
He decided to avert a row with a touch of autocratic
authority. It had worked before.
" Let there be no vulgar <lis,,lay of pugilism here,"
he said, sharply. "If you don't like my methods, get
Everything in Graham's nature seemed to have be-
came concentrated in one big bail of desire to hit and
302 THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN
hit, and hit again — to hear the heavy thud of his
blows on that man's body — to see him lying squirm-
ing and broken ^.1 t.ie carpet with a receipt in full upon
his face for all that he had done.
" Put up your fist," he said, " or I shall have to hit
" Curse you, get out ! " cried Kenyon, catching
Graham one on the mouth before he was ready.
Graham laughed. He needed that. By jove,
needed that. He let out his left. "That's
Peter," he said.
Kenyon staggered. His left eye seemed to
With a yell of pain he jumped in and hit wildly.
Graham waited a second chance anu got it. " And
that's for Belle," he said. And his knuckles bled with
the contact of teeth.
Kenyon went in again. Chairs fell over and the
table was pushed aside. And all the time that he
failed to reach Graham's face he screamed like a horse
whose stable is in flames.
But Graham, cold, icy cold, and cooler than he had
ever been -in his life, played with him. He had never
been so much a man in his life. He warded and
guarded ant" waited hoping that he might once more
feel the sting of pain that would make his last blow
unforgetable — epoch-making.
He got it, — but with Kenyon's foot.
And again Graham laughed, — for joy — for very
joy. Now he could hit, and hit honestly.
"You little gentleman!" he said. "You perfect
little gentleman — I've paid you for Peter, and for
with rn'iidred per cent.
Belle. Here's my debt,
terest and then some.'
cault T"' ''"■'' "f "^'^ '""'" ^'" f"" shoulder,
caught Kenyon on the po>:. - f the ,aw, Hfted him
of hi's^al" '"' '^ "' '"" '''''''' ™ "^^ '--''
For several moments, breathing hard, Graham stood
Zdv ?uu-^ f"" "' '^' '•'^''evened, ttnconscious
dandy, w..h h,s l,ad blood all over his face and
clothes His collar had sprung, his beautiful brown
rhM .^°"f '■°""'' ""'■'' '"' ''''■ '"^ -^hi" '••"ffs were
dabbled w,th red, one eye was bunged up and his mouth
was all swollen.
tJ^.Z ^'f!"'" ""^ *' '^'^"' ^"'l ^^•'"'«= ^vaiting
id.ed himself up in front of the glass in which he now
felt that he could look.
The girl came in and gave a shrill cry
"Just see to that man, please. Cold water at once
will be the best thing."
He caught up hi.s hat, went out, shut the door, ran
down-stairs, let himself into the street and was out of
hSelf '"*° ^ *''''"'' ^'^°''' """ ^"^ ''^'' recovered
"Paid in full," he said breathlessly to himself, as
he bound up his knuckles—" in full."
With wide-eyed anxiety, Graham, having driven
.straight back, waited l„r the doctor's verdict. The
304 THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN
• i ''^ .
,.! .ill ■!
two young men stood alone in the little sitting-room.
With a touch of delicacy, which they were quick to
notice, Nellie Pope made no attempt to follow them in.
" Um ! " said Dr. Harding. " A very close shave
from pneumonia. He can't be moved yet, unless, of
course, you'd like me to send for an ambulance.
That's up to you."
Graham shook his head. " No," he said. " I don't
want that. I think he'd better be — I mean I don't
want my father — Oh, well, I dare say you under-
" Yes," said Dr. Harding, " I'm afraid I do. God
knows what the percentage of disaster is from men
having soused themselves like that. It seems to me
that your brother, who had obviously caught a severe
chill, must have set out deliberately to make himself
drunk, and mixed everything in sight."
Graham held his peace. But his blood tingled at
the knowledge that he had given Kenyon something
that he would never forget and which would make it
necessary for him to remain in the seclusion of his
state-room for some days at least.
The young doctor sat down and wrote a prescrip-
tion and went on (|uickly to tell Graham what to do.
Finally he rose. " I'll look in again this evening," he
said. "You'll be here, won't you? Of course we
shall get him all right in a couple of days or so, — that
is, right enough to go home, — but "
"But what?" asked Graham.
" Well," said Dr. Harding, " I may have to
leave the rest of the treatment to your father." He
irLTl'"'' "^'"' '"'" "" '^'^ -y '° the door.
" Mr. Guthrie, you're wanted."
Graham turned sharply. Nellie Pnnp „.of-
the rinrfnr 1,. 1 ^^'^"'e i ope, waiting unti
he doctor had gone, put her head in at the door
Come on ,„.- she said. " Come on in - "
over'peTeV^or^' '\^ ""'^ "" ''^^^-^ -^ -^-^
over Feter. Opening his eyes with some difficultv
as ough they hurt him. Peter looked about "xhe
he wIIT"^" ''''' '''' °f "^« g->' -as strange
l,''^"^' '^"l '^'""'^ '° '^e'ong to a dream. Then
he^recognued his brother. "You got away, then"
" Got away ? "
saw It ^^ ^°"'- ''•'"' ' '^'"^^•' The last time I
aw jou. you were carrying mother along the passage
I could hardly see you for smoke. I it Be^'v o^^'
."to the street and dived back into the hou e Tath
was t e only one left^ Good God, what aw^u, ir^
i he library „as red hot. I got into the middle of it
'' No." said Graham. " He's all right "
. A httle smile broke out on Peter's face and he
s.ghed and turned over and went to sleep again '^
Nellie Pope made a comical grimace. "I don't
wonder that 'e's been dreaming about a fire 'she
whispered. She arranged the covers over Peter s
shcnilder with a deft and sympathetic hand, and then
took Graham s arm and led him out into the passage.
306 THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN
"You've got your work. Push off. I'll see to the
medicine when it comes. Don't you worry. Get
back as soon as you can, and while you're away I'll
look after 'im like a sister. I like 'im, poor boy ! My
goodness 1 why don't somebody put the lid on all the
distilleries? Half the troubles in the world 'ud be pre-
vented that way! "
Very reluctantly Graham acted on the girl's sugges-
tion that he should return to his office. He was in
the middle of very important work. He held out his
hand. " You're a damned good little sort," he said,
" and I'm intensely grateful."
Nellie Pope's eyes filled with tears. It had been a
long time since she had been treated so humanly or
had her hand so warmly clasped. But she screwed
out a laugh and waved her hand to Graham as he let
She spent the rest of the day in and out of the bed-
room. With her eyes continually on her clock, she
devoted herself untiringly and with the utmost effi-
ciency to looking after her patient. To the very in-
stant she gave him his medicine and said cheery, pleas-
ant things to him every time she had to wake him up
to administer it. It was an odd and wonderful day
for her, as well as for Peter, — filled with many touches
of curious comedy, the comedy of hfe — and many
moments of queer pathos. Once she had to listen to a
little outburst of incoherent love, when Peter insisted
on telling her what an angel Betty was. Once she was
obliged to hear what Peter had to say about his father,
from which she gathered that this man was responsible
for the burning house from which this boy had only
just been able to escape alive, having saved his family
Ihe obsession of fire remained with Peter until the
evenmg, when he woke up with a clear brain, and
having taken his medicine, looked at her with new
" VVhat's all this? " he asked quietly. " Where am
i, ana who are you ? "
"Oh, that's all right," said Nellie Pope.
'Is it ? Are you a nurse ? "
" Yes," she said.
" Is this a hospital ? "
" Yes,— that is, a nursing home," she said
" Oh ! "^ said Peter. " Where's Kenyon ? "
" I don't know, dearie."
"What on earth was that filth that he gave me to
clnnk? I carried the books into his room, and then
m hanged if I can remember- I've got a most
frightful headache. Every time I move my head
seems to split in half. How long have I been here?
Was 1 poisoned, or what? "
" Now don't you talk or you'll get me into trouble
\ou go off to sleep like a good bov. You'll be all
right in the morning."
"Shall I? That's good." And he heaved a big
sigh and obeyed. It was extraordinary how sleep
came to his rescue.
He was still asleep when Graham came back at six
o clock. Nellie Pope opened the door to him. " 'E's
geiung on fine," she said. " You can take that line
out of your forehead. 'E's been talking quite sensihlv
■ :«. -'M
308 THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN
to me. What I don't know about your father and
your family isn't worth knowing."
Graham tiptoed into the bedroom, drew a chair up
to the side of the bed and sat down. And while he
waited for the time to arrive for Peter's ne.xt dose
many strange things ran through his brain, — his own
precocity — his own desire to be smart and become a
man of the world — his own evening in the little shabby
the?, rical lodgings in Oxford with Kenyon — his
dealings with Ita Strabosck — the night he had spent
in his bed-room w hen Peter took his razors away —
that awful hour when he sneaked into his father's
laboratory and under the pressure of great trouble
forged his name. The only thing that gave him any
sense of pleasure out of all this was the fact that he
carried in his pocket a warm and spontaneous letter
from I^anken Townsend, which he knew v^ould be
better to Peter than pints of medicine.
And while he sat watching, Nellie Pope ate her
sausage in the kitchen and finished the instalment of
the love stcjry in her magazine.
What a world, O my masters !
It was late when Graham let himself into his
father's house that night. He had done many things
that day. He had also been through much anxiety.
He felt that he deserved the right to turn in at once
and sleep the sleep of the just. But Kenyon had said
r- I . r<-niark lived most nnpTcii,, ;„
He was well aware of the fact that Reir. t,. 1 k
-ethjn, .ore than mere,, "ttt'ed t 'kLZ"
He had even hoped that she might be eneLd to h
mdependent girl, with strong emotions ^( ' P''"°"''
-c.„ ,otr.f:„ iz ?;*:a7cr„?;
ta n,.nas,<l .ift n. ligh,,,, „, |,J, ?, .te „*
THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN
i • ■ ,
knew that he could not say anything that would
prejudice him in her estimation, even by telling her
what he had done to Peter. She would be al to
produce reasons, however far-fetched, to make that
incident seem less ugly. There was, however, the
chance — just the chance — that she would be open to
conviction. After much inward argument and hesi-
tation he decided to go up to Belle's room, and if she
were not asleep, to have a little talk with her and find
out how the land lay, and if he could see any possibility
of adding to his punishment of Kenyon to do so by
putting him in his true colour before Belle.
It took him some time to comt to this decision and
screw up his courage to face Belle. For nearly an
hour he paced up and down the quiet library, smoking
cigarette after cigarette. Belle was likely to tell him
to go and hang himself if she considered that he was
butting into her private affairs. He knew this, — no
one better. He had often done so before. He de-
cided, however, to run this risk and, in the hope that
she might still be up, went upstairs and stood for a
moment listening outside her door. He could hear
no sound in her room, no movement, no creak of a
drawer being opened or shut. He knocked softly and
waited, — was just going to knock again when the door
With her beautiful black hair done for the night
and a pink kimono over her night-dress. Belle stood in
the doorway with an expression of surprised inquiry
in her eyes. These two had not taken the trouble to
be very good friends for some years.
"Oh, it's yoit, Graham," she said, but made no
"It's awfully late, I know; but, if you're not too
t.red, may I come in?" Graham hated himself for
bemg self-conscious. It seemed absurd with his own
sister. He wished then that he had not been quite
so selfish and self-contained since he had considered
hmiself to be a man, and had gone out of his way to
Keep up his old boyish relations with Belle.
He was a little surprised when she said, " Come in
dear," and made way for him. He noticed quickly as
soon as she stood und^r the light that her eyes were
red and swollen, and that there was a most unusual
air about her of gentleness and dejection. He noticed
too, with immense relief, that a large photograph of
Kenyon m hunting-kit which he had seen standing on
her dressmg-table had been taken away. A good sign I
The room was very different from Ethel's. It had
nothing of that rather an.xmic ultra-modern air so
carefully cultivated by the younger girl. On the con-
trary, everything in it was characteristic of Belle It
was full of ripe colours and solid comfort. A mass of
silver things jostled each other untidily on the dressing-
table. A collection of monthly fashion papers with
vivid decorative covers lay on a heap on a chair, and a
novel, open in the middle, had been flung, face down
on the sofa. There was no attempt at carefully
shaded lights. They were all turned on and were re-
flected from the long glasses in a large mahogany
wardrobe. The carpet all round the dressing-table
was bespattered with white powder.
312 THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN
" I was reading when I heard your knock," she
said, — " at least I was pretending to read. Sleep was
Graham sat down, hanging a pair of stockings over
the arm of the chair. " Why? " he asked.
" Oh, I don't know, I've been thinking, — for a
change. It's such a new thing for me that it knocked
sleep out of my head. Not nice thuusjhts, either."
She seemed glad to talk, Graham thought. " .\uy-
thing the matter. Bee ? " he asked.
" I gue.ss it's nearly a century since you called me
Bee," she said with a queer little laugh. " Would you
say that anything was the matter if you had just picked
yourself out of the ruins of a "^ouse that had fallen
about your car ' "
Graham got up suddenly, sat-(jn the sofa at Belle's
side and put his arms round her shoulder. " Don't
dodge behind phrases, old girl," he said. "Just tell
me in plain English. Let me help you if I can."
But Belle shook him off, — not angry with him so
much as with herself. She detested \\eakness. This
unexpected kindness on Graham's part made her feel
like crying again. In her heart she longed for some
one to who"i she could pour out her soul, and Gra-
ham's affection almost caught her before she could
stop herself. Not to him, she told herself, nor to any
member of her family, was she going to confess the
sort of thoughts that had choked her brain ever since
that hour alone with Kenyon. Not even to Betty, to
whom she told most things, was she going to lay bare
the fact that, in the cold light of day, she found herself
m«,t of her I„ fact, she ha.l herself only that night
begun to real.ze the state of her feehngs and was Si
suffering under the discovery.
Graham, whose nature and character were as much
.ke those of Belle as though they were twi s caT,gh
pnJe and a desire to tell the truth. It was as plain
1 h'ad V'°"'' ^'l'-^' ''''''>■ ™"f-- 'hat Ke"
n him H T'"""^' ^^■'"'^'^ h^'' shaken her belief
00m h^^h' P''°*°«"P''- -''•^h had dominated her
room, had been put away. Her eves were red and
-ollen. All his sympathy was stirred. At tie same
™e he rejoiced in the eager thought that he hid i
m^h.s power to dear Kenyon finally out of her
He set to work quietly. " I'm going to tell you
about Peter," he said. *> fc ^" >ou
She turned quickly. "Peter? There's nothing
wrong with Peter, is there? " ^
to 1?!°'' ^''Z'J'T ""'•' ^^'""""^ *here is. In, going
to tell you all I know. We're all in this.-throu4
Kenyon. and because we've been thoughtless fools
running amuck through life."
The idea of there being anything wrong with Peter
brought Belle quickly out of self-analysis and tL self
indulgence of her own pain. " Don't beat about the
bush, she said. " Please tell me. You told mother
ftis^morning that he had stayed with Nicholas last
"That was a lie. This is what happened. After
314 THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN
a rotten day worrying about an upset with Betty, he
went to see Kenyon late last night. He'd had nothing
to eat. I believe because Kenyon had been disap-
pointed about something earlier in the evening, — but
I only make a guess at that from the way he looked
when I saw him to-day, — he deliberately took it out
"On Peter? How?" Belle understood this dis-
appointment only too well.
" He made him drunk."
" Dead drunk, — by doping him with a fearful mix-
ture of all the drinks he had. He had always threat-
ened to do it, and this time he caught Peter napping
That was a foul enough thing to do anyway, but i(
didn't satisfy him. He got him into the street and in
stead of putting him into a cab and sending him honu
he cal'p'' a passing woman "
"Oh, no!" cried Belle.
" Yes, — and gave Peter over to her and there he':
been, in her bed, in a little hole of an apartment, il
and poisoned, ever since."
"Oh, my God! " cried Belle.
" The woman rang me up early this morning and
got Ralph Harding to go and see what he could do
I've been there most of the day, — except for ten min
utes with Kenyon — the best ten minutes I ever pu
in — ever."
He got up and stood looking at Belle with a glean
of such intense satisfaction in his eyes that she guesse(
what he had done.
"Thl fu°"' ^'''""''''' ^"""^ Kenyon." he added.
whose charm of manner got us all at Oxford, and who
was made one of the family by father and mote
when he came to this country. I hit him for Peter,
to-day. I left h,m lymg on the floor in his room,
all over h.s own black blood, and if ever I meet him
agam. m any part of the world, at any time of my life
II give h.m another dose of the same sort — for Peter
for you^and for me- Thafs what I came to tcli
He bent forward and kissed her, turned round and
lett the room.
That was Kenyon, Graham had said
Standing where he had left her, with this story of
utter and mcredible treachery in her ears, Belle added
another count to Graham's indictment.- that of try-
-ng to seduce her without even the promise of mar-
riage, when her grief at parting with him made her
Fo: i aomtir. she stood chilled and stunned. That
was Ke.y,.n -■ All along she had been fooled -all
along he had been playing with her as though she
amounted merely to a light creature with whom men
passed the time. It was due to her father,- of all
men. her father.- that she stood there that night.
hum>l,ated but unharmed, with her pride all slashed
and bleedmg, her self-respect at a discount, but with
nothmg on her conscience that would make her face
the passing days with fear and horror.
316 THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN
She suddenly flamed into action. " Yes ; that's
Kenyon ! " she thought, and making a sort of blazing
pounce on the middle drawer of her dressing-table she
pulled it open, took out the large photograph of a man
in hunting-kit, and with queer, choking cries of rage
and scorn, tore it into shreds and stamped upon the
Belle got very little sleep that night. Having
finally decided, on top of her talk with Graham, that
Kenyon had intended to treat her much in ihe same
way as he had treated Peter, she endeavored to look
back honestly and squarely at the whole time dur-
ing which that super-individualist had occupied her
thoughts. She saw herself as a very foolish, naive
girl, without balance, without reserve and without
the necessary caution in her treatment of men which
should come from proper training and proper ad-
She laid no blame upon her mother, — that excel-
lent little woman whose God-sent optimism made her
believe that all her children were without flaw and
that the world was full of people with good hearts
and good intentions. She blamed only herself, and
saw plainly enough that she had allowed her head to
be turned by her father's sudden acquisition of wealth
which made it unnecessary for her to be anything more
than a sort of butterfly skimming lightly through life
without any duties to perform — without any work
herTi"/ '': -"ention- without any hobbies to fill
her mi-- and give her ambition. She felt lii,. .
z:'\rrr''' '-- bei'g;::'!:^^ x
tuS'. \,?°' ^^ '°'"^ ^'^'"^ '^"i'lent, had been
nT.H f ""^ *''' "^'■^ ^'^^^ °f «" aby s. It wa^
."f si"i •; r;'^ T'' "^^^^ ^-^'' ■" ^" h-
peoally the incident in the back-water with Kenfon a„d
he n,ght of the ball at Wadham College. Thesew' re
o owed .„ her mind by the scene in the library „ he
fathers house, and finally that dangerous hour n
Kenyon s rooms when, but for the intefvention of h ^
man who seemed of so little account, she might have
been placed among those unfortunat; girls S whom
the world talks very harshly and who pay a te ribk
pnce for the.r foolishness and ignorance' ^And vl
Seen 'sine! f "'' '7'-'''" "^"^ ==•"" "^^ ^^e ha"
been smce those good, strenuous days of hers at her
college when she had intended to nfake art ler n,i
s.on m hfe, she told herself with a characterist tou h
of humour that the reformed criminal was a very good
to Ethel and .mprove the occasion. It was verv ob
V.US to her that if she did not do this nobody ,1m '
and she was eager to give a sort of proof of the fact' '
that she was grateful for her own escape by giving '
318 THE STXS OF THE CHILDREN
her young sister the benefit of her suffering. And
so she put on her dressing-gown and went to her sis-
ter's room — the little sister of whom she was so fond
Ethel was sitting at her dressing-table doing her
hair. There was a petulant and discontented expres-
sion on her face. Still shamming illness, she had not
yet recovered from the smart of what she called Jack's
impertinence. There was a surprise in store for her,
— she who believed that she had managed so success-
fully to play the ostrich.
"Why, Belle 1" she said. "What's the matter?
You look as though you had been in a railway acci-
Belle sat down, not quite sure how she would begm
or of the sort of reception that she would receive.
She always felt rather uncouth in the presence of this
calm, self-assured, highly finished little sister of hers.
"Well," she said, "I have been through a sort of
railway accident and a good many of my bones seem
to have been broken, — that's why I'm here. I want
to stop you, if I can, from going into the same
" I don't think I quite understand you."
" I don't suppose you do, my dear, but you shall —
believe me." And then, in the plainest English she
gave Ethel the story of her relations with Kenyon,
without in any way sparing herself. And when she
came to the parting scene in Kenyon's rooms she
painted a picture that was so strong and vivid — so ap-
palling in its proof of foolishness, that she made even
ene'j'ejT ''' ^""'^'^^^"^^ ^"^ ^ --'^^ ^"ge, fright-
you an this fo'r a feason Yo thinklat '"' ''" '°''
wise little nerson uaa' u ^' y°" ''« a very
How d you know that? "cried Ethel
I thought It was rather a good ioke j\.^ .'
m-red you for the cunning 4y in'^ich v T. '""
for a chanee and tn tr-,, *« t, • . ^^ game
ange, and to try to bear in mind that you owe
320 THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN
father and mother something, — a thing we all seem
to have forgotten, — and when you do go back, just
remember — and always remember — what I've told
you about myself. We're very much alone, you and
I, — like two girls who are staying in a house with
somebody else's father and mother, — and so let's help
each other and get a little honesty and self-respect
and see things straight. What d'you say, dear little
Ethel got up, and with a complete breakdown of all
the artificiality so carefully instilled into her by her
fashionable school, slipped into her sister's arms and
iirst out cryirg.
It was not until the next afternoon that Peter was
allowed to get up. His superb constitution had stood,
rock-like, against the chill which the doctor's medicine
had helped to throw off. He had done full justice
to a broiled chicken which Nellie Pope had cooked
for him ; but when, having put on his clothes, he stood
in front of the looking-glass, he felt as though he had
been under a steam-roller and flattened out.
" Good Lord ! " he said, when he saw his pale, un-
shaven face. " Good Lord I " But he was very
happy. He had read and re-read Ranken Townsend's
generous apology. Betty was waiting for him —
thank God for that.
And then he began to look round. Was this a
nursing home? The dressing-table, with its tins of
' . f
CtS>;'SS:^-^P"'^'tsreC stuff .0.
of its teeth gL ootd a T V""^' ''''"'' ^^-^->
closet, which gaped a httif 1 , ! """^ °* *<=
and a pair of vervhUh. .!??''' '^'"'" ''^"^'"g
Pers. He opened 'a t^t^^Tf '''''' '''^'^ "P
was full of soiled ^vhh^\ '''•«s'"g:-table. It
rolled up, and a oil cS" g°ves. several veils neatly
papered bare walls at the "1 ^ ''' "' ^''^ ^°''''
hob of ihe M « Y™ ,„M 1 " "" '« '"■!
i-S Horn,," h, 3,a ^°" '°''' « "■' >W. wa. , „„„.
other kind of men " «;., >• '■- ,. "'^ """^^ '^e
home and IVe had to hV "' ''' '"'• " ^^'^ »«^
t-rne. Her msmuat.ng, cheerful manner and that
Ff ■' ■ ■!•:
322 THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN
sort of hail-fellow-well-met intimacy that was all about
her, came to him with a new and appalling meaning.
He had been spoken to by just such women in London
after dark, and on Broadway and its side streets as
he passed. They belonged to the night life of all
great cities. They were the moths who came out
attracted by the glare of electric light. Good God!
What was he doing in that place ?
The keen remembrance of this woman's inestimable
kindness, the supreme lack of selfishness which had
inspired her to bend so frequently over his bed, the
charity of her treatment of him as he lay ill and help-
less, made him anxious above everything else not to
hurt her feelings. But there were things that he must
know at once, — urgent, vital things which might affect
all the rest of hib life. There was Betty his love-girl
— the girl who was to be his wife — who was waiting
for him with the most exquisite and whole-hearted
" I want you to tell me how I came here," he said.
Nellie Pope went over to the dressing-table.
" That's easy," she replied lightly, adding a new coat
of color to her lips. " The night before last, not hav-
ing 'ad any luck, I was 'aving a last look round and
'appened to be in Forty-eighth Street just as you stag-
gered out of a 'ouse on the arm of a young gent. I
reckoned 'e didn't 'ave any use for me, being outside
'is own place, but I passed 'im the usual greetin' from
force of 'abit, just as 'e 'ad called up a taxi. With a
funny look on 'is face, — a curly smile I called it to
meself, — 'e suddenly gave me orders, lumped you into
o" you. Wel 1 rliri ^ u ^ """"^y y°" 'ad
dear?" ^a i uo. feeling weak, old
indescribably, pathetical ly^iV^o be in th " '°"''
of a man who asked for ISLl '^^ '""'P""^
but a friend -a f j, '"^' ''''° ^'3'* "ot a guest.
"\f. JTT^ fellow-creature down on his luck
Me and Graham," she said_"=.n^ i "'^ '"<='«•
good-looking boy hat is annT.M :. ''^' ^'''* ^
dearie — WPII'- L ' '^ ^^""'y ^«'°t«d to you,
Peter didn't answer. The joke-? Back into hie
di L^xtord. You need humanizine old hnv
Utterly ignorant of the feeling of revenue wh.Vh
had surged through Kenyon's br'ain after B^i; had
324 THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN
been saved by the Doctor, it was borne in on Peter, a!
he sat on the bed of this poor little night-bird, that Ken-
yon had set out on purpose — with calculated delibera-
tion — to make him human, as he called it, before h«
returned to England. He had made him drunk ir
order to carry out the joke. He had given him some-
thing to rendfr him insensible, well knowing that ir
no other way could this fiendish desire be fulfilled.
" What time is my brother coming? " he asked.
Nellie Pope was busy daubing powder on her face.
" Not until about nine o'clock," she said. " 'f and
me talked it over this morning. The idea is that you're
coming in on the train that arrives at the Grand Cen-
tral at eight- forty-five. Now don't forget this. You
stayed the night in your friend's apartment, but you
couldn't see 'im oflf the next morning because you'd
taken on a bit of business for 'im which meant going
out of town. Your brother is going to meet you at
the station. That's the story. And you're going
'ome together. 'E went back to get one of your bags.
'E will sneak it out of the 'ouse and bring it round here.
Oh, I think we're pretty good stage managers, 'im and
me. You see, the notion is that Ma mustn't be upset.
Poor little Ma!"
"What's to-day?" asked Peter, whose whole body
seemed suddenly to have been frozen.
" Sunday, dearie."
" Then I've been here two nights ? "
" That's so," said the girl.
Peter was consumed with a desire to explore the
apartment. He wanted to discover whether there was
another bedroom " Ar. .
^I^ed, a littJe clumsily ^°" ^°"'fo"able here?" he
°" h- feet agafn that he coJw u^'^'S '»='"-boy
^ance. "Come and ave /. ^ ''^ '"■°'^^" '""to a
;au.hm, at the wt^ he'Thosr"^- y"'^'?''-^'''''
bedroom.- 1 jo^., ^^ ;h°^- You know the
""y- On the right I Z/T ■ ^°'^^^ ^^at in a
only use for my custL. f"'"&-^°°n, which I
kitchen Which werrcSeT^-^th^ T /' '" '"^
't. with her hand on hi^Trn, . ' '''' '^''"^ '"'°
^JhTiitt ''' p''^^-'°ey of~he;;s ^".tM':^
""gnt little apartment, beautifnii,, / ,' " '^'^
gas stove and dresser "''^""^ ^^rnished with a
P'ain. but serviceable De";; tab,;'"?'' J^^'^-n-a
'■noleum which 'as worn '^ ^ "'« P'^^e of
popular Miss NellTe Po™ :,? "^"' "^« ^"'"etimes
•Ere she cooks her own ? '' """'' °^ '^'- '-■'^"re.
•erself,- she's a v rr„eaU 1^' ""'^^^ "P ^^'^r
goingoutonthe longtraln n '"""^'-^"d before
'ife with a big L i„^ Je '?" '''^'^'''' '•-ads about
with curly 'Jr, wl^o stanrf"' '" "'"■'^'' '-°es
-est love to bfondt: S eataJ l^-" J^'"^-' "'^'^
^■•e nearly always about six fee/ ' ""'''' ^'^°
'° -ear silk stockings lanff^"^' ""^ "^^er fail
charming suite for a stgleadvth" '°" /"'^ ''■ ^
'"&• The only drawback tnt u ""■"' '^ °"" ''■^-
be paid monthly in Idvan J /\ * '''" ^^"' '^^ '»
'ects it gives LgrtiuT', '"^""^^ ^^"^ -''
'Say! Got that rS- ' v^^V " r" "' ^^'"^^
" — Come on now,
326 THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN
ain't got no time to waste here. Pay up or ge
out — ' I tell you what it is, dearie, there's a littli
Florida in Hell for them men who let out apartment;
to us girls, and the heat there is something intense.'
She laughed, but there was a curious quiver to it.
Behind all her badinage and cheery pluck Peter couU
see a vein of terror which touched his sympathies
Poor little ""'.inted, unfortunate thing! Was there nc
other way in which she could live and keep her heac
above water? He sat down and leaned on the tabli
with his elbows. " Will you tell me," he said, " wha
brought you to this?"
"Brought me to it?" Nellie Pope shot out i
laugh. "You dear, funny old thing!" she said
" Nothing brought me it. I chose it."
"Chose it! Chose thisf"
" Yes, this ! A great many of us choose it. It'
the easiest way. That shocks yer, doesn't it. — yoi
who come from a comfortable home and wl -2 sis
ters 'ave everything they want. But, you .jten ti
this and don't be too fast to pass judgment. I wa
one of a big brood of unnecessary kids. My fathe
earned fourteen shillings a week by grubbing in th'
earth from daybreak till sundown and my mothe
took in washing. We 'ived perched up on a 'ill amonj
a dozen dirtv little cottages. What was the outlool
for me? Bi ',g dragged up with meat once a weel
and as a maid-of-all-work down in the town, beinj
ordered about by a drab of a tradesman's wife, witl
not enough wages to buy a new 'at and a little bit
finery for Sundays, and then be married to a lout wht
working directly afferwards n , '" ' ''"''y ''"'•
no rush and bustle, ^decent ^ "u ' °"'' "" ''>"'«•
dependence. Yes I choseT ? /r '° P"' °"' "° ■""
a^in I should chil: -n; ir'^LVirti'"'"^"^"
way. Oh, yes, we die vn„n , ! ' ^ '*'*' easiest
we're buriej. bt t w vf-a^ r"""'^ '"°"^ -here
'hat every vv^figh 1 for th ''' '"' "'^ *"' "^^
Oh. by the way, 'ere?;ot'pu;3;r '^ SH^'^k"'^"-
over to Peter. '^ ^^e pushed it
;;My purse.?" he said.
1 es ; don't you recognize it ^ Jtu :
'" it as it 'ad, because Twas told „M^°''°'""^''
I did. I -ave jotted dow^wha^l '^ T'"' '""
the account" She hpl^ . ^"^ ^^^^"' 'ere's
Peter could see a ist „f° ' f-"'' °' P^P" °" ^^ich
taxicab fart nda n ke fort/T' "'■'" '"^'"'^^'' ^
of it there w-as an hem nt" ,^f ^^^^^^^^ ^' '"« -d
Peter shuddered. He S Si th^ ' *^ ^°""^-"
m mighty useful." ■•* '' "^ome
boo'L^ttXd'ar^f ' ^"""^ °"' ''■■^ '^''eque-
Pen on the d e 1 " h'a "" ' '"""^ "' '"'^ --J «
biotting-paper. Watched viri^uha??"'?'^'^ "'"^
-tement by Nellie Pop, l4o;tn;rrl:S
3^8 THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN
dresser and wrote a cheque. " Will you accept this?
he asked. " I wish I could make it larger. But i
it was ten times the amount it couldn't possibly cov«
my gratitude to you. You've been awfully kind t
me. Thank you, Nellie." He held it out.
The girl took it and gave a lituo cry. " Five hur
dred dollars I Oh, Gawd I I didn't know that ther
was so much money !;■ the world." She burst int
tears, but went on talking. " Mostly I can't afford t
cry, because it washes the paint off my face, and it'
very expensive. But what do I care, with this bloorr
ing -aeque in my 'and? I shall be able to take a littl
'o'iJay from business and, my word, that's a trcai
God makes one or two gentlemen from time to time
'pon my soul he does. Put it there, Peter." She hel
out her hand with immense cordiality and gratitude
and Peter took it warmly.
But he had discovered what he wanted to know
There was only one bed in that apartment, and bad
into his mind came Kenyon's words. " Blind ! Blind
— both of you — and in that room sits a man whosi
patients you may become."
it : ;
:| :; :;:i
Graham was before his time. He hurried in, a;
anxious to get Peter out of that apartment as Peter was
to go. He found his brother sitting on one side of the
kitchen table and Nellie Pope on the other. Both
had magazines. The girl tore herself out of the mar-
We house of the h-, . ^^'
Peter had been hold „7r:„/"''.'=^ -'" -uc.anee,
!•" hour. He had l^!n JT''"', "P^'''^ ^o-" fur
'«° his father's labTrl "' t1? ' """«'■ " ^"^
remote suggestion of a smile ?• '*'" ""' *=^en the
Grahan, threw open the door '" "'"^ '^^ -l^^n
wait.nr''"'"''^ ">-•■• -ged Graham. " The taxi's
sHe wL'itS ^ r^:: '°°'' - "-• She saw that
7J on tipt'oe. ma?e a^r "a';'': ."""^^ ''^-^^•
off the peg. Then she stool ,n7 ^°' ^^'"'^ ^at
''PS trembled, although £ ill °"' °' ''™ ^"'^ ^er
"Pthecomersof hermou J "f.f t'^"^"^'' ^'"■'e curled
voy, eh.^ Well, goodlck and p^°' r^-^y-- but ore-
.«"« you both most awSy T?!'""^ ^°"- ^ ^^all
ave you 'ere." ^^ ^' ^ ^een a fair treat to
H 'reerf:^ wiirs',r ^r '^^ ^- -•-
•0 be at the back of h s he d y^H '" ^^ ''''-^'
woman pass She m I ^l ^ '^''^'^ back to let a
- -quLg eyetra th"f?'^" ""''' ^' ^™ -''>
'he half-closed door of an "'' '"' ""^'^^'^ °P-
Pitched metallic voice rang ouf""';' "^^ '^■^h-
goes Nellie Pope's boarder B"r .7' *"'' "'^^^
^ome one oughter stop he". "' ' "^ * >'" '''ink
330 THE SINS OP THE CHILDREN
The two boys drove home in silence. They ha
both caught the meaning of those significant words.
Graham, the self-imagined man of the world, wh
had picked up a large collection of half-facts — as a
the precocious do — but who, for all that, or in spil
of that, had walked into the trap set by Ita Strabosc
without the faintest perception of his danger, thre'
those words aside. Everything would be right, li
told himself, and if he had been coming out of Nelli
Pope's apartment in the ordinary way and had ovei
heard her rival's loud comment, he would simply hav
shrugged his shoulders, like the rest of the young me
of his type and spirit, and knowing only the tail end o
the truth, told himself that all men take " chances
and that the odds were largely in his favor. An
what would this attitude of puerile bravado hav
proved ? That he and all the men like him were jui
as much a menace to society from knowing the hall
facts which did nothing more for them than allo\
them to take " chances," as the men who were wholl
ignorant and so blundered blindly into tragedy.
To Peter, the words of the painted woman came a
a finishing blow. In his crass and culpable ignoranct
into which Kenyon had flung one most terrific fad
he came away from Nellie Pope not knowing whethe
he was immune — not able to assure himself that h
was safe. Think of it! Big and strong as he was
he remained a mere child in the matter of plain, nee
essary and urgent truths, and if ever a man knew him
self for a fool he was Peter Guthrie, as he drove home
No less grateful to God than ever for having beet
'he facts of life,- rt rem " *"''"^ ^""^^t out
proper source,— since hT /u ^ '"^"' '"" from a
;;'".^ehis.,u;,r;^:e j"-'^' "^^ ---el
I -enyon had not open^, out ^ ™ '"'''^ '" ^is life.
01 thought the night that he tl Tl '"'' ""^"^ ^-'^
Ita Strabosck, Pefer'sT^o'lncf "^T ^"''^^ ^"^
takenly preserved, ,voulfharr '" ^' °"''^ ^"^^ '"'^-
he would have gone hln I ""'^ ^o colossal that
awful thing-had sunk h tof ■■''' "^ ''" °"^ '"°^'
dangerously less ignorant h ,f ■ ,. ''' "'^'''"g him
edge. He arrived^ome I n" 'lf°"' P'°P" '^"°wl-
hideous fear. ^ P'"^' therefore, to the most
and^'mtJer^'BeirLT'' ''"'"^ "■'" ^is father
days, suffering f't t^ stcirf *°"" ^°^ ---'
about Kenyon. and Ethel h^d r."^°"' '''^ ^^^'h
Peter was able to go UP to u;, '"'"^^^ to school.
Graham, whose loyaZ Id °'™ ''°°'" """°""eed.
-■ went up with E a„T hrrtr^''""^""'^'''
comer. " '""^ew the suit-case into a
" Gee ! " h
^ade no attempt'to hide " buTr °\'T'°" ^^at he
Petey." It was many Irs sL ^ ^ '""''' '°'"^'
by the name that he hadT u -^^ ''"^ -^^"^d Peter
.--ed to have com. ' cZl t ' h" v ""^"'•^- «'
■ng those recent hours ' ^'^ '"'"'her dur-
^-r did a surprising thing. He turned quickly.
332 THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN
strode over to Graham, put his arm round his shouldei
and kissed his cheek. For just those few moments
both men had gone back through the years and wer<
little boys again.
Two things happened to Graham. He blushed tc
the roots of his hair, and swallowed something that
threatened to choke him.
"You said you had something on, didn't you,—
supper, or something? " said Peter.
" Yes; but I'll cut it out if you want me to."
" No, don't. Why should you ? I feel pretty rot-
ten and I shall turn in right away. Don't bother about
me any more, old man."
" I'd rather stay with you."
"Yes, I know you would, old boy, but you push
oflf and have a good time. As a matter of fact, I
rather want to — to be alone for a bit. D'you see? "
" All right, then." And to show that he had become
a man again and his own master, Graham went off
whistling the latest tango.
And by letting his brother go at that moment, Peter
did a very unwise thing. He was still weak and ill.
His brain, which had not recovered itself from the
effects of Kenyon's poisonous mixture, was in no con-
dition to be tortured by solitary thought. He needed
to be kept away from self-analysis — to be set to work
on the ordinary commonplaces of everyday life. Most
of all, his thoughts required to be put to rest by sleep.
Left to himself, Peter sat down, almost in the dark,
with his arms folded, his legs stuck out and his chin
buried in his chest, and thrashed the tired machinery
S^tt;;iS,^;::::^^^".'''at had happened in
Bering that he Ld unde' '"^ °" '°P °' 'he suf-
separated from Betty Tndh^"' t""^** ''^^■"^ "^en
;;he new relationship fv th hTTat?"^' '° """^ ^•'-^
had set his heart, gradua Ivt :.' "P°" ^^^ich he
gan to look at e;erytlShr T '"''''"'■ "^ »--
"•^■•ng glass and to ee J ""f/" '" ^"°'-'"°»^ "lag-
%al, simple and ulsup Cous ; "°' " °"^ ^^ofe
advantage of by Kenjon b", ' ''"' ""''" '^ken
creature who had had to Cm^] ^ '°'""'°" '^'■""'<«"
had spent two nights n tl '"'° ' •^="' ^"^^ ^'ho
°f the street. He bgl" '.'^ .^P^,--""-"' o( a woman
deep a hun.iliation annsgusUhat'^.H'"''""'^ "■'" -
of h.s ever again holding B^yn l "^" "'^"S^'
outrageous. And havinAv ! 1 ' ^""' '^^""ed
by the condition of hi hea^^ Tv'"''' ^°"^^'^able
heen put upon him by II, S ^u 'u' ''''''' '""'^ had
-nee his return from eI 'L 7^ ^''^^ "^'^ happened
and hyperconscientioufpo ;;t h?' *;? '° *''^ '""'"''■"d
he stood up suddenly, ob ess d bv' "'''""'*''°"'
hng thought. He sl\,Ztt'jf" "T '"' ''PP^'"
unworthy of Betty I'm „n°, " ^^ "ot only
And having sei.eJ'ira thh tl"' " ""'' *° ''■-"
triumph that comes with aMl r''"'"^ '""^ ^^^"
derstanding, he be^a^ „ ? '^''°'''" "^ the un-
Wmself ho5 to Se i moT'*^"^'"'^ •^^^"'-*° ask
father entered hif h IX '^?«-,, And then his
.^rdly. "Father-itw'L h "^^ "'^'^ ■"-
■t's /a/A^r who must b. „ ° " ^^^P°nsible_
ne slial! come into the
334 THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN
room to-night in which he spends all his time for tb
benefit of other men's sons and find the one he neglectec
lying dead on the floor. That's it! Now I've got it
There's a hideous irony about this that'll sink evei
into his curious mind. I'd like to be able to see hi;
face when he finds me. There'd be just a little satis
faction in that."
If only Graham could have ccme back at that mo-
ment, or the little mother to put her arms round thai
poor, big, over-sensu ve, uninitiated lad and bring hiir
out of his mental dejection with her love and warmth
There was a revolver somewhere among his things.
He had bought it when he went camping during one
of his vacations from Harvard. He hadn't seen it
' for several years. With feverish haste he instituted
a search, going through one drawer after another,
flinging his collars and socks and all his personal things
aside, talking in a half-whisper to himself, until, with
a little cry of glee, he found it with a box of cartridges.
And then, with the most scrupulous care he loaded it,
slipped it into his pocket and crept out of the room
and downstairs. The door of the drawing-room was
ajar. He heard laughter and the intermingling of
voices, heard some one say " Good-bye." He dodged
quickly past, through the library and into the room in
which he had last stood with his hand on the shaking
shoulders of his father. He would give him some-
thing to weep about this time,— yes, by jove, he would !
He would make him wake up at last to the fact that
his sons were human beings and needed to be treated
He welcomed the fart tv,ot
room, speculating as to th"' ''"'"'''^ ^^""^ 'he
be found outstreLe/j^\,7:'f -.'■■- ^'^^^ ^°
so that there might he nn i u , '""°" ^"^ 'hen,
down to wnte a taHnllZt "'^ '" '''^ ^^'''^^' -'
Time fled awav Pi
"ote paper, pouring om ST.'' "?" ''''' ^'^^ ^^
appeal for the nghf t eatm n /°g 'h"'""^ ' '''''
ters, and finally signed h; ."^^'" ^"^ ^is sis-
his large round' vS„ ' tI^'' '"'"^ "--^"''^^ '"
The storm had come „eale ^Tl'"''''''"
rolled over the hou^I fo, ' ^^^''""'^ ^^ thunder
ning. "'^ ^°"°^ed by stabs of light-
spo^^ith?r:L';r^'^^"^ °" ^-^^ ^^-n
-olver to his tenX '°" ''"^' "' "'^
There was a sort of scream
histj^'Jse;:^ 7^-°^- sentence,
ont in front of hL ''' ""' '""^ "'"^ thrown
' I ♦
336 THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN
"Why couldn't you have come in five minutt
later ? " he cried out, with queer petulance.
The Doctor tottered forward and peered into hi
son's face. " Why were you going to do that? Te'
me, tell me!"
" You'd have found it all there," said Peter, point
ing to the pages which he had left on the desk. " No
very nice reading, I can assure you. But if yoi
want me to tell you instead, I will. And then you cai
see how a man dies, instead of finding him dead. Per
haps this is the best way, after all."
He went to the door and locked it, still holding th
revolver. The sight of his father did not stir an;
pity or sympathy in his heart. On the contrary, i
added to the fever that had attacked his brain and actec
as an irritant. He went back and stood in front o
the grey man. There was an expression of contemp
on his altered face. The pattering of heavy rait
against the windows seemed to please him. Nature
like himself, seemed 10 have burst into open protest
" Sit down," he said.
The Doctor obeyed. The blaze in his son's eye;
contradicted his unnatural calmness. He had to deal
with temporary madness. He could see that, and he
was chilled with a sense of impending danger in which
the most poignant solicitude was mixed.
" Now," said Peter, weighing his words with odd
deliberation, " you're going to hear something that'll
shake you out of your smug self-complacency and your
pitiful belief that everything is all right in this house —
You're a good man, a better man than the average
''I^e a dog to give the " ! h . '" ^""'^'^ ^^""-ked
;;ad. and.ouVeVnfX rCt"°"/''^" ^-
"loney and make things easJ uf '°P'"°^'de us with
^eVe grateful. W a,knn ^^^ ^" ''""^ 'hat and
proud of you as a doctor-? "''' "^ ""^^t to be
discoveries and added to th ^ "'.''" '''''° ^^^ made
your profession. Well VeV""'"'^ '"°^^'^^g'= °f
■n the last words that !« II ^ '"'""^ °^ y°"- But
to tell you what you vj fai '^^^^^ T T' ^'"^ ^""^
of all your kindness and un t u ° '"^ ^^''y- '" ^pite
children respects ylotw'"'-' "°' °"^ "^ ^'^r
eldest son, have got to out . '":• ""^ ^^''^ '• ^0"^
of your neglect." ^ '" ""'^ '° ""y^elf because
cru^yofSfindSn;;:" ''''■ '''' "'^'^ed
''-e. " What doe Th s Je :r;: *'^" "^ ^"'^ ^n-
fnd love me, the others do ?„ I ^°" ''°"'' ^^P^^t
'-ted you.... He sL'\;"j''^! ->',.Jave I neg-
whipped into sudden anger. ''''^ * '"a"-
and'^pul E Lt'naled^ZV''* ^ ^°"'^ »"■» °"t
"e was ill-treating a Is; "::*ir • '"""^ ^-^^^
gomg to tell you,- he saTd ^"f . J^^'' ^^^t I'm
and I'm not going to!eave anv.h "''' '°*^ °^ '""«
.- tj. , ,,, otLs';:;rarfovTyo„rrr
^o thS eC ;: ut°of tt^ ^-^ -' -" -Xp
a «ttle talk? And f°th ?LTr°-°'"^ ■" "^^ ^°'-
338 THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN
a human being? Would you meet them half-way ii
their desire to get something besides your money fron
you ? Have you ever once in your life been sufKcientlj
inspired with a sense of your responsibility as to mak(
you get up and leave your work and come among us
to play with our toys and get known ? Have you evei
once in all the years that we've been growing up beer
courageous or wise enough to take Graham or ine foi
a walk and tell us any one thing that we ought tc
know ? In what way have you ever neglected us ? Ir
the most vital way of all. We could have done with-
out your money and the education that you've been
so delighted to give us. We could have done without
comfort and servants and good food and easy times.
They mean nothing in the sum total of things that
count. Most men never have them at the beginning.
They make them. What you've never given us is
yourself. And we needed you. What you've never
given us is common sense. You've been a good father
in every inessential way, but no father at all in all that
goes to make us men. You've lived in a fool's para-
dise. You've let us find our own way. You've not
given us one human talk — one sif ;ple fact — one word
of warning. You've utterly neglected us because
you're a coward and you've hoped and trusted t'/
others might tell us what you've been afraid to si
Afraid, — to y "ir own flesh and blood, — think of it! '
The Doctor cried out agaia He realized much of
the truth of all this. He had confessed himself to be
painfully shy to his wife many times and had spent
God knew how many anxious hours wondering how
"'ind back to the „"1 J f' '""^i ^"" "' P"' /-,r
•"e. You saved h"m frn " """' '''■"'""' ""''' ^-'^
'hat was good. fiTutt , ^^'"^ ^°"' "=""^' ^"^
you ask yourself/^ ail " "" *° ''"''' ^'<i
his confidence' DfH „„ ^° Graham and gain
a woman beh" d it aH wh rt' ^""^'''^ """^ --
his life if you had deaTt bv H ,?'"■ ^''' '°"'' '"to
then-the'sort of toman wh":. h ' ' "^" ='"'' ^ ^-
these things round IT? k '' '""'^^ "^"^^^ry
tobendovly"fjp:,'„;';°'-f°'-y ^"^ -"-d you
"Good God! Wha r ^°'' ^^"^ «"d years ? "
Peter ro- I u- °° y°" mean?"
^eter raised his voice " Wh,- u u
immune? What have ," ^ ° y°"^ sons be
-' Why Jfr:z:z^i:::z£r" '''-
'" niy hand? Look at mef A /el, ""^ '''°^'"
health and everything in the „ u T''' ^^° ^ ''ad
-rth living, except a fit T ' 1^"^' '"^''« ''^^
cause I've never had a father T- '"°"^'"'' l^^-
;hou.d be a crimi';?.-; P^i^^^ ^^nT "'\' '
I m going to kill myself." ^ '°''^ 'hat
340 THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN
" Why ? What have you done ? "
" I've been two nights in the bed of the sort o
woman whose work you are trying to undo."
The Doctor staggered, and then rose up in hi
wrath. "You have? You, my son,— with such i
mother — with such home influence! You mean t(
tell me that you've descended to such depths of im
morality that you've gone back on everything that youi
education has made of you? It's unthinkable — un-
believable. You must be a mere animal to have done
such a thing."
What else he would have said in his emotion and
horror no one can say.
A cry of pain and rage rang out. The injustice of
his father's narrow, inhuman point of view, his in-
ability to show him, even by his impending death, that
he must wake up to his duty and stand by Graham
and his sisters, sent the blood into Peter's fevered
" My God I " he cried. " You dare to talk like that
to me? You dare to kick me in the face after I've
told you that I'm ignorant — without listening to my
explanation as to how I got into that woman's apart-
ment. All right, then, I'm not going to be the only
one to pay. You shall take your share of it. The
sins of the children are brought about by the neglect
of the fathers, and we'll go and stand together before
the Judge to-night for a verdict on that count."
He raised the revolver, aimed it at his father's head,
put his finger on the trigger
There was a blinding flash of lightning. A yellow
qmvering flame seemed to cut th.r • ^'
the two angry men . ""' "^"^ '" ha'^ between
An instant later mo r>
Joth hands over his t^Th: uL^lJ" ^'^"'^'"^ ^'^
the table i„ all its ugliness aZ '''"°^''' '^^ »"
had realized what had hln .P'"'""^' ^hen he
* God didn-t intend th!; '^'^"'''' ""= ^^"^ nearer
And then his v^e iCdte"'' '' '''''" "<= ^^
h.s arms round Peter's shoi, "^f' ^^^-^ 'o put
For three weeks Peter', t, j
'" the house to which th''^'" ""'' ^^^ """^ ^"o™
whCy turned. xtV : tt dall ^ ^^""'^ ^ ^
«n attack of brain fe;er Lv' ■ ''^ " "'^"■"' '°
great danger, poor old Peter •,'," * ^°"dition of
vvho, better than the rest k„e""!^ ""^ '''' °°«or.
doors through which S^oeslf ' 'f "^ ''^^ "^^^
^vho had been called in with oir ' "'"^ '^' '^'^'^'^^
The little mother and Rel. ''^"■""^•
Betty, and the three .™ T" '°'"^' '' °"« hy
speaking and even thinkin^n t '"^ '^'"^^ '"^^^^er!
•^vo days. To the one " hn « ""' ^"""^ '^e f5rs
the one who waited Z^tZ^pT'^ "^ ^^^ -^
-"..ood that life had for rh:::;S?Lx;;:^
34a THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN
that he might be taken away their imaginations ran
ahead, as they always do in moments of such poignant
anxiety, and they were afraid to look out of the win-
dow in case they should see Death, the black camel,
kneeling at the gate.
While the shadow seemed to rest on his house, Dr.
Guthrie did many things. First of all he went over all
the terrible words that Peter had said to him that
bad and unforgettable night. With great humbleness
and deep emotion he accepted them as the truth. He
sat for hours at his desk with his hands over his face
and tears leaking through his fingers. Metaphorically
he placed his old hard-working, concentrated self in
the criminal stand and his new startled, humbled and
ashamed self in the Judge's seat and summed up his
hfe as a father. It was very plain that he had failed
m his duty to his boys. He had made no great effort
to conquer that queer shyness which had affected him
from the beginning. He had allowed his children to
grow up to regard him as Bluebeard. He had thrown
upon his wife's slight shoulders all the onus of the
responsibility for the human development of their
characters, and because she had succeeded while they
were young he had, like a coward, neglected to step in
and take upon himself his obvious duty when they had
grown old enough to need more — much more — than
the soft guiding hand of a mother. He had allowed
them to make an early start,— the girls, as well as the
boys,— without understanding the vital necessity of
duty and discipline which he alone could inspire in
them, because no man or woman in all the country.
speaking manfully toXse?!"'^"'' ^''^'^"'"" °f
permitted them to Jlow „„, oTj^^' .' ""^'^ "^ "^^^
'hem the benefit oTlln ■' '"'^ "''^'^"^ ^^-^"S
'he simple warn ng and fZ.TT"^ ""'«*'''"' -
a-ay from temptaS^ and n I '^ '"'' ''^ ^"""°-
He "took chances" and h',' u'"^ ' ^""'^ '''>■
might by accident give them ■;; r''' """'-• "^ ^l-
'hey wouid find theroXms:It=■^::' :r- •'-
Remorse and regret made Hell fn ,h-
those honest hours — thi, .rJi ^" '"^" '"
g"ished. self-made man I ' "''"'"'''':'' '^'^"^'-
hy his profession effons^nT "'"". """'' '-^
-Who had s....jvi;;^::-^-^:
to tell him wherein le now S S n'!;^" ^""'■«''
fed of him. as he had a M o^^,^,^^ ^^''^^ -^
ehance. It was a oath^t.v \. '^' ^°'' ^"'"her
'hesetwohad.du4gwh h^"H/r'°"^' '^"^ 'hat
nothing, reservinrnot "' ""tL'"'' '"^ '""'• '^■■^'"^
good for them bo?h. as Z Jt ZT'tL ' '''''
together to see NelbV P^„^ j , ^ hey went
to the Doctor's unJlLT, 7^.^ w '''' ''"^ ""'^ "?"■
was in no dangerTrr^" J^l^t? ''" "^'-
'hat little, kind, wretched mVi k1 '""^ ""^ards
344 THE SINS OF TK£ CHILDREN
placed by him at work which rendered the need for
her following her chosen profession unnecessary.
And finally the day came when Peter was able to
receive visitors, and a very good day it was. The lit-
tle mother went in first — she had the right. Peter
was sitting in his dressing-gown by the window To
his intense relief he had just passed through the hands
of a barber, whom he had asked to make him look a
little less like a poet. He turned his head quickly to-
wards the door as his mother went in. His old high
spirits had returned. The sun was shining and life
looked very good. His imagination made him as well
aware of the fact that his mother had been through
some of the most anxious hours of her life as though
he had seen her sitting in her room below with a drawn
white face and her hands clasped together. He got up
and went to meet her. He took he: -u his arms and
held her very tight. What they said to each other was
far too sacred to put into cold print. They spoke in
undertone, because the trained nurse kepi a jealous eye
upon her patient and moved in and out of the dressing-
room adjoining. The interview was not allowed to
be a long one. The last thing that Peter said to his
mother made her very happy. " I think that the Gov-
ernor and I are pals." he said. " I think we've found
each other at last. Isn't that just about the best thing
you ever heard ? "
In the afternoon Belle was allowed in. To his great
relief she told him in her characteristic, concise way,
how she felt alwut Kenyon. He caught her young, she
said — marvellously young, "and if he should ever
come back to New York nil ti^'ii ^ r
two fingers. IVe Jue relt /V"" *"' "'" '^
. 'hat line out of your foreh a'o ' boy" Z "? l^'^
clays when you're out -inH ni \ ^" "'^ "^ "'"^
four times Ln^ Z ^T:^i;:i^ ^"'^ ^'^"
th>ng of whafs been eoin^ tL , ^"^ ''""^-
youVe been ill. Cact "ve'I hT' "' "'"' ""^"^
^o, said Peter, "I don't All ,1,
grateful to him for one .htr' H , '""'' ^ *"
.1... com,™ „rH, " "■?»»"» »f »l.ep Mill i„
town, ' "" ''""« "> f *"i,-
l'"*- "W "P«!" said Graham,
el,,.'""- ■""'"■" «•"■«'» l-l 1)»B in lie,, , I,.,
How dyou feel this morning'"
Peter showe<l his teetl,. " r,„ ,;,„•
."g nounshment. Probably before the . Ll of the
34ft THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN
week you'll see me in shorts and a zephyr sprintir
round the park before breakfast."
"I'd like to," said Graham, and he held out h
Peter took it and gave it a scrunch which had i
it nothing of the invalid. "Give my love to th
subway." he said, "and my kind regards to Wa
Graham grinned, waved his hand and left the roon
He found it necessary to blow his nose rather hard oi
his way down-stairs. " Oh, Gee ! " he said to himsell
"Oh, Gee! Only think if Peter had —" He didn'
allow himself to finish the thought.
And then came Betty, and the way in which sh(
and Peter came together — the way in which thei
stood only a step or two from the door, inarticulati
in their love and thankfulness, was too much even foi
the trained nurse, to whom love and death and th(
great hereafter were mere commonplaces. She with-
drew to the dressing-room and stayed there for a whole
solid quarter-ol-an-hour, eliminating herself with a
tact fulness for which Peter blessed her a- id Betty be-
came her friend for all time.
" .My baby ! " said Peter. " We shall have to begin
all over again. We're almost strangers."
But Betty .shook her head. " No." she said. " No.
There hasn't been one moment during all this time that
I haven't been with you."
An<l Peter nodded. " That's dead true," he said.
And then they sat down very close together and the
things they said to each other are lost to the world,
l^ca^u. we joined the nurse in .He next .00. and sh«
'y«Sbt yo,r,._ m"; „ Jl'' '"'' '^ "nmnl ..ve„.
to church the next n „ nTnt T '''"' '° «" "''h her
0^ the .act that ^^Z^^^^ S^;^;- ^-^v,ed,e
whose children have outgLvn the"/ "'^ "' "°'"^'-^
wol; who h7:;::i?^- -?f '■>- rather rare
'i-e. whose'^ttfr r";e .Sr^;'\ ^'- hand of
sort of endeavor t„ '[eatnient she had made no
Optin^isn^trad °f ^hln'o r^nTlf " ''' '''"^'■
the usual gift of acceDt.W "" S°«'"«^. and
was without anv of tL .''■^•' ""^""wed her. It
cakes the nature of hot ''""■" "^ '""'>'^''"'" 'hat
able to acq ^ethe e s^r f" r," '''' ""' '^«"
frankly made this ;.enlr , ^''""^"Phy that she
-Tea favour. P t a^w M ""' '^"''^ '""^"^^ de-
kneel before the aka of .]?''"'"''"''' '^'"^ "'''"'^J '°
thanks, surrounde.f ;^ l,?;,:!";;'''^^ '"' ''■'
of the day that made her a Se '" '""''"'''>
The family had grown out of the hahit of going to
348 THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN
church, — Belle was tired, as a rule, after a late Satui
day night, Graham was an inveterate week-endei
Ethel was a modernist, and Peter played golf, — an^
so, when they all agreed without any argument the lit
tie mother was almost as surprised as she was de
The conspiracy of silence which the family hai
tacitly agreed upon during their recent trouble, in or
der to spare her from unliappiness, left Mrs. Guthrie
wholly without any knowledge of the fact that the;
were all glad of an excuse to join her in church, lie
cause they all felt a curious eagerness to listen to tli(
simple, beautiful service with which they had growi
up and to kneel once more — more humbly and sin
cerely than ever before — in the house of the God whc
had been instrumental in their various escapes.
It would have been better if Mrs. Guthrie had noi
been so carefully shielded — if she had been made tr
share with the Doctor the blame, — at any rate for th<
mistakes which the two girls had made, — from tlu
fact that she had let go the reins of duty and disciplim
with which she had held them in their early years and
given them their heads — if she had been strong
enough and wise enough to maintain over Belle and
Ethel, without autocratically putting a stop to their
having " a good time," the authority of respect, won
by love and the e.xercise of sympathy and common
sense — if, in short, she had not been content to slip
into a position that allowed these higli-spirited girls
to say to themselves quite so early in their lives, " Oli.
poor, dear little motlier doesn't understand. She
^tood that she was a s'r ; ' " ^'"-^ ""''«r-
an active „,ember of the firm S?'"' P^""— "°t
"-■■ng so sweet and so and" old f' T" '''''''' ^^
conldn-tpossiblvapprecjlThl ' '""''^ "'^' '^^
■•" which the sirls^Ledn^'"^"'''*'°"^°f»''e times
little niother. Betty I a H ^^ ^"""' ^'"1 the
they were in the hall, and jns\ as n" ,; h "'' " '"'
■^ta.rs w.th Mrs. Guthrie th;\t-n;' *^''''^' "f''
qtnckly. " I want VOL, nil „ '"" '""""'
;»* t'ri'i.;ir;2,;:^- *-
''«k. With one thin u V ' '"'"' "•*" to his
of winter si on a L^ "" "'• "''"^ ^■'" ^ ^'^^t
;;fod there for :i:::;r;::ir';r^-"''''^'^
350 THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN
those strong glasses that his children had never seen
" Peter, Graham, Belle and my little Ethel," he said
brokenly, " I'm going to ask you all, on a day that
means a great deal to your mother and to me, and
so to you, to forgive me for not having been all that I
ought to have been to you I know that I've failed
in my duty as a father. You have always been my
most precious possessions and it is for you that I've
worked so hard and so closely, but because of all that
I went through as a child and because I never strug-
gled as I ought to have done to overcome a foolish
shyness that has made me self-conscious, you and I
have never been friends — have never understood each
other. I take all the blame for whatever you have
done that has made you suffer and of which you are
ashamed. Very humbly, I stand before you now and
ask you, as I asked Peter, here, in this room, to give
me another chance. Let's make a new beginning from
to-day, with the knowledge that I love you better than
anything in the world. I want you ail to meet me half-
way in future, to look upon me no kanger as the shy,
unsympathetic, unapproachable man who, by accident,
is your father, but as your closest and most intimate
friend whose best and dearest wish is to help you and
listen to your worries and give you all the advice in
his power. I want this room to be the place to which
you'll always come with the certain knowledge that
you'll be welcomed by me with the greatest eagerness
and delight. Don't let there be anything from to-day
onwards that you can't tell me. Promise me that. I
for :: loiZtZT'-' "^'' ^"^ ■•'•^ -o 'ate
could never repaT^T^ii""-"'^' "-in, failed I
you: confidence and C^lt"" "" '"^^ '° ^•'■"
H<s voice broke so badly that .,
speak, and the pain fulness of th" " ""''' ""^'''^ 'o
^vas almost more than "Sose 1 '"^' '""•= ^«"e
It hurt them enough to stJnd 1'"'"^ ^°"'^ •'-^•
opened his sou) for fhem to 1? ^'"^ ^ '"^" ^^ho
that man was their fS U 'T ""^'^'^"^ ^h^"
blinded by tears in th m kldle '7' "'"' '° =*^^ '''"'
a" realized called fl 5 *"''''''"''''' '''^>'
-ength of character ?o mate "'""^ ^""^^^"^ -d
forcelm'orra humbi™'''"^ '° ^^'P ''- and
nWy self-conscio s rt"vt"p:t ''"^'^ "^^ ''-
two strides he stood a tie Dn f "'" "'" ■■*• ^^'"h
arms round his shoulder °' ' ""^ ^"^ P"t his
Cinrf;„^^lr-- - ^ace of the great
^■^"ed. Then he found hi ' ''""' ''^"<^'"- and
himself to the bitter end oh^r.^l"" '"'' ^"^^"^^
say. " Something „ the wat ''' ''^'""""•^'' '°
-nee Peter has been ill^hes./";^ ^" "•^•^•-' ""^
That's why I p„t mv elf ^"'^" '"^ hope.
Shall we maker„e7:; ..„7r S'-^' '"^ ''-s.
'"to your friendship? Will "u'.M '°" ''^' "'^
chance?" '>"" all give me another
Wuh a little cry from her heart K.M
an<l put her arms round her flT """ ^"'■^^ard
with hot te,-,r« r.nn. ^^ '"-"^ '^ "'='=^' and Etl,el
'•I'nning <iow„ l,„ face
crept up to
352 THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN
hirn and put one of his hands to her hps. Graham
btnt over the other, which he held tight, and Peter,
who had lonped for tliis moment through all his ill-
ness, didn't give a curse who heard his voice break,
patted the Doctor on the back, and said : " Dear old
man, my dear old father I " over and over again.
; ill ■
I his ill-